Burning rubber and ridding hunger, meet the Indy Speed Demons
The Speed Demons started with just three members a year ago. Now, they’re up to 50. See how this car enthusiast group has become family and how they’re feeding Indy’s hungry.
Mykal McEldowney, Indianapolis Star
A young man hangs outside a passenger-side window. More than half his body is outside the car, his free arm and leg helping him maintain balance. His head is above the roof.
But the car is moving, whipping even, around turns and creating black marks on the pavement. Screeching tires kick up a cloud of smoke that cloaks the parking lot as they drift. Sheets of rubber debris spray the onlookers who stand behind orange cones.
After the young men display their tricks, known as “spinning,” the judges hold up their score. Nine. Nine. And a 10, earned by two drivers who got out of their cars and switched places while the vehicles still ran.
The burnout competition, hosted by a local car club called the Roadhoggs, sometimes includes pyrotechnics. And occasionally the sports cars knock over cones with their bumper while they drift.
Each time, the event is a spectacle that attracts car clubs throughout the region to drift, create figure eights and spin to a crowd of sometimes hundreds, almost all recording with their phones.
Attendees will pay $10 to $50 to watch the Indianapolis subculture of spinners every month.
“These guys work hard on their cars. It gives them something to grind for,” Deveon Kayzer said. “By the end of the night, you’ll see them wash their cars hundreds of times.”
For one crew, the burnout events are just one part of what their club does.
They call themselves the Speed Demons. While their sports cars and spins make up the ethos of the group, they serve a deeper purpose.
Every other Tuesday, the Speed Demons sprawl throughout downtown to aid people experiencing homelessness. They show up in style, arriving in their sports cars and revving their engines before parking along the street and handing out supplies from a pickup.
This summer, they’ve handed out roughly 50 meals each night to the less fortunate. They gave out gloves, socks and jackets last winter.
They fund the meals and supplies by pooling money from their own pockets each week.
Their name may have hellish connotation, but the Speed Demons got their start in church.
President Montrel Wilson said he noticed his younger brother Marcquell’s longtime work handing out meals from McDonald’s to people without housing with his cousins. He had been doing so as part of their church’s youth group.
The brothers integrated the charitable spirit with their car club. Their mission: to make a change in Indianapolis by helping other people through giving.
In one year, the club of three grew to the roughly 50 members it is today.
“It just feels good to be out here helping other people,” Marcquell Wilson said as the Speed Demons handed out meals and water bottles in Monument Circle.
The prepped meals have so far included chili, pizza and spaghetti — all prepared by the self-described “Chef of the Demons.”
“My food blesses people,” Edward Lee explained. “I love to be a blessing to people.”
Whatever the group asks of him, Lee said, he’ll do.
“No questions asked,” he said.
The group likens themselves as a family. Like Lee, each member has a role.
“It’s like a well-oiled machine,” said Kayzer, the Speed Demons’ event planner.
The club hosts basketball tournaments, barbecues and block parties at Riverside Park as a way to give back to the community.
“It’s really important,” said Shatona Reese-Robinson, mother of Montrel and Marcquell Wilson. “African Americans out here trying to do something right, they never get recognized.”
She may be the Wilsons’ mother by blood, but the Speed Demons also call Reese-Robinson the “Mom of the Demons.”
“They’re riding their cars, they’re not bothering nobody, they’re not harassing nobody, they’re giving back to the community,” she said. “That is so important.”
The Speed Demons recently secured their license to own the group’s name. Their next step: obtaining their official nonprofit designation to apply for grants.
The extra money will help them “do bigger and better things,” Montrel Wilson hopes.
Contact Sarah Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-503-7514.
Contact IndyStar photojournalist Mykal McEldowney at 317-790-6991 or email@example.com. Follow him on Instagram or Twitter.
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