Bradford is home to the UK’s most well-known DIY racers, driving the cars your nan would shake her walking stick at. Fat exhausts. Big boy engines. Shiny paint jobs. Speeds of zero to god-knows-what.
Last summer, director and actual Bradfordian Sam Aminzadeh spent a month with the racers, attending car meets and getting to know the faces behind the Subaru Imprezas. The result? Wheels – a glimpse into one of Bradford’s most controversial subcultures.
Aminzadeh has been well aware of the group from a young age. “It’s a big part of the city’s culture,” the 29-year-old says. “I remember hearing cars with super loud exhausts zooming past our house at all hours. My mum wouldn’t like it so much, but me and my mates would think it was cool.”
Throughout the film, we meet characters like Terry who drives a jacked-up yellow speedster paired with a killer cackle, and mechanic Zhara, who proudly refers to Bradford as “the city of cars”. Many of the racer’s lives revolve around waking up in the early hours to work on their cars, saving their pennies for new spoilers and learning everything there is to know about their motors – something Aminzadeh is keen to make known through the film.
“People assume they aren’t doing anything but driving around, but it takes a lot to achieve a car like that. Some might look down on them as deadbeats, but they aren’t,” he asserts.
Aminzadeh hopes the film will show Bradford in a positive light. “The media seems to demonise the North of England,” he says. “The people of Bradford are really unique with their outlook on life, their humour and how welcoming they are. Bradford’s history is very industrial – working-class people doing things for themselves.” His film Wheels isn’t all about doughnuts and nitrogen shots – it shows how the city’s car suping subculture connects people across race, religion and gender lines in a place otherwise known for its social divisions.
Director — Sam Aminzadeh
Executive Producers — Jennifer Byrne & Stuart Brumfitt
Producers — Rosanna Gouldman & Aaron Z. Willson
Director of Photography — Jaime Ackroyd
Camera Assistant — Juan Minotta
Drone Pilot — Elliott Kajdan
Drone Co-Pilot — Benjamin Tancrede
Sound Recordist — Izzy Farmiloe
Runner/Driver — Will Gore
Runner/Driver — Yousef Aminzadeh
Editor — Ben Elkaim at Trim
Socials Editor — Millie Gray
Colourist — Steffan Perry @ Framestore
Sound Design — Seb Bruen
Track One — Phonewifey — Nos (Hard Bass Edit)
Track Two — Quays & Lixo — Fiver
Featuring — Zahra Khan, Terry Fawthrop, Q, Umar Raja, Aidan Hickman, Subhaan Ali, Shane Moriarty, Ayaz Nazir, Hamza Iqbal, Mujtaba Pervez
Camera Hire — Aim Image, Shift 4, Four Corners Film
Commissioned by The Face
Produced by The Face and Ground Work