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The plastic filler cap squeaks as it's being unfastened and twisted off the tank. Likewise, another cap comes off from a fuel canister and is replaced with a filling spout. The pungent smell of gasoline fills the air as the clear liquid gushes out of the nozzle and flows into the tank. As the tank fills up to the top, some of the fuel spills over its rim and quickly seeps away into the flowering meadow below.
The vapours cause a stinging sensation in the nose and brain, a reminder of how potent this liquid is. The tank is now full with this precious stuff. A natural resource, refined out of the crude oil that our planet created deep within its bowels, taking many millions of years to form. It's about to be burned up in less than an hour.
Another squeak is heard as the tank is closed tight. Everything is ready. The petrol tank is topped up, the choke lever pulled, the fuel system is primed. It only takes a quick, brisk pull of the starter cord and the once dead machine springs to life and starts "breathing". The clean, fresh air is sucked in through the air filter, mixed with fuel, ignited by a spark, and enriched with carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and all manner of other toxic substances. As it makes its way through the engine's system, it starts seeing a light at the end of the pipe…
As the motor rattles into action, the previously inconspicuous, innocent-looking, small exhaust pipe starts spewing out a vile plume of thick, bluish fumes. Flowers and blades of grass sway violently as the pipe blows the opaque smoke at them with high speed. The once pristine, healthy air, after having passed through the engine, now is no more. It's but a noxious brew of everything that is polluting, unnatural, unhealthy, and deadly. No longer of any use to the engine, which needs a constant supply of more fresh air, it's expelled back into nature where it will stay, useless waste, accumulating, contaminating the atmosphere, killing plants, soiling buildings, and causing sickness in the men, women, children and animals that involuntarily breathe it in.
As the wind starts blowing the exhaust fumes away into the landscape, the plants and flowers peeking out from the smoke are covered by specks of a gooey, black liquid – droplets of unburned oil that the engine spurts out from the tailpipe, along with the clouds of poisonous smoke.
After several minutes of letting the engine warm up and settle, a blue smog already building up along the hillside and in the nearby woods, the person orchestrating this spectacle is ready to get to work, picking up the roaring little engine. Every time their fingers give the throttle lever a little squeeze, the rotating string accelerates, allowing them to trim the grass and weeds, tending the garden. Every little squeeze also revs up the engine again, cutting through nature's once peaceful tapestry of sound with another loud howl, and blowing yet another jet of blue fumes into the countryside.
Sure, it causes quite some noise emissions, scaring off animals and making it impossible for anyone within hearing distance to relax or enjoy nature. Also, it will take a while for those toxic fumes to have completely dissipated again after the work is done, and the fumes and oil might leave some plants contaminated. Although the operator themselves are clearly the most vulnerable here, working and breathing as they are right next to the exhaust pipe and its emissions, barely noticing how they are gradually getting shrouded in the fumes, filling their lungs with a mixture that is a little more exhaust gas, a little less breathing air with every breath.
Of course, even once those fumes have wafted away, they will continue adding to air pollution, and contributing to climate change. And speaking of the environment, the device naturally also consumes vast quantities of non-renewable resources, with its insatiable thirst for gasoline and oil. Not to mention that the machinery needs to be kept on a regular schedule of elaborate, time-consuming maintenance to keep it in working order. Besides, it's also a pretty heavy, unwieldy tool to carry around.
For the operator, though, all of these are but minor inconveniences. Drawbacks that they are more than willing to bear, for the benefit of a little less strain on their arm muscles compared to having to use a traditional scythe. A little increase in comfort when tending the garden. It's a nice little luxury. And it's one of the cheapest methods, anyway. Heck, even a decent-quality wood-and-steel scythe would probably cost more than this simple two-stroke trimmer with a few full tanks of gas! So it's also the logical choice.
And so they will continue burning fuel, spreading engine noise, contaminating nature, poisoning the air and polluting the environment, until the last drop of fuel from the tank has been used up. Then, it's time to unfasten that cap again, and fill it with some more gulps of fresh gasoline.
By "we", I don't just mean me and those who are my kindred spirits when it comes to the topics of this website. I also mean humanity as a whole.
Humanity produces over 200 million internal combustion engines each year, and it's estimated that there are more than two billion gasoline engines in use in the world right now. That's one fossil-fuel-burning, noise-making, exhaust-fume-emitting motor to every four people alive, regardless of their age, origin, or economic status! Of course, they're distributed pretty unevenly. In less economically developed regions, a person may use a cheap, easy-to-repair two-stroke scooter for all their daily errands and life needs. (It's a nice coincidence that these engines, so wide-spread thanks to their affordability and long life, and for the same reason also the engines most popular with young riders strapped for cash, are also the most polluting – depending on the measure used, one small two-stroke scooter can pollute the air with more harmful substances than a thousand cars!) A North American household, on the other hand, might collect a good dozen engines under its roof: two cars, two motorcycles, a lawn mower, a weed eater, a chainsaw, a minibike and a go-kart for the kids, a jetski and a snowmobile for the holidays, a water pump for the pool, and a power generator for emergencies.
Of course, poorer households would be more than happy to stock up on their gas-powered vehicles and tools. It's a question of means, not of choosing not to have them. But even as it is, gas engines are ridiculously cheap, relatively simple to build and maintain, very efficient, and extremely convenient. No other source of power comes close in affordability, availability, and versatility. That's why over the past century, our species has found ways to apply them anywhere, and to anything. If it takes any amount of physical effort, or can be reasonably sped up by applying engine power, chances are someone has come up with a way to do it by burning fossil fuels. And in a lot of cases, that gas-powered solution to the problem is probably even being mass-produced somewhere.
Like the marginally lighter physical labour afforded by a gas-powered string trimmer described at the top of this page, there's barely anything humans have deemed not worth burning gas for. How about petrol leaf blowers, noisily moving leaves from one yard to the next (until the wind brings them back a few minutes later)? Or gas-powered washing machines? Drones and remote-controlled cars can also be powered with a small two-stroke engine instead of an electric motor. And the sky is the limit once you add petrol power generators into the mix. In the military, we used to run a gas-powered generator so soldiers could charge their phones out in the field. And some uses gas is burned for are downright ironic. Maybe you have already seen someone using a clean, eco-friendly, electrically powered hedge trimmer – but having it plugged into a gasoline power generator?
The previous examples all accomplish some genuinely useful task, but arguably, not even that is necessary. Enter motorsports, where athletes practice and compete, for fun or professionally, just as they do in any other sports – except that their sports equipment includes a gas engine! Putting it bluntly, driving around in circles won't fit most people's definition of an activity "worth burning non-renewable fuels for", or "worth polluting the planet and endangering our health for". And yet, even as we have learned about the devastating effects of exhaust fumes on our health and the environment over the decades, it couldn't stop us from burning gas for purely recreational purposes.
Here's to some good, healthy physical activity out in nature's fresh air – after all, the tailpipe points backwards, so the athletes themselves get to breathe clean air for the most part. It's the people left behind who have to deal with the poisonous fumes! And poisonous they are – since off-road sports vehicles don't need to be street legal, they generally don't need to pass any emission controls. Your dirtbike is free to expel as much filth from its exhaust as it pleases, as long as you only use it out in nature, and not on public roads! And since it's a piece of sports equipment, the focus is clearly on performance, not properly burning the fuel or cleaning the exhaust from toxins.
Despite the political climate, motorsports are still popular and going strong. Over the past decades, they have even made a lot of progress in becoming more inclusive. The gender imbalance evens out a little more every year, with more and more female motorsports athletes filling up the ranks along their male competition. Motorsports as a great equalizer – after all, you can't really discriminate if you can't even tell a man from a woman underneath all that gear!
And humanity also makes great efforts to enable their children and youth to enjoy motorsports. Kid-sized motorcycles and riding gear in junior sizes are not custom-made one-offs, but companies are mass-producing them as part of the regular product line-up. Even as motorsports symbolise how we humans are short-sightedly destroying the environment our future generations will rely on, we make sure that age is not a barrier when it comes to participating in said destruction. Which also gets our youth acquainted with petrol engines from an early age, allows them to drop any reservations, and start getting to know them as a natural part of everyday life that it's alright to use for fun.
Motorsports and off-road vehicles are another area where humanity has let its imagination run free: from cars and karts on the road, to motorcycles in the woods, desert, or anywhere else off of the beaten path. From motor boats and jet skis on water, to snowmobiles on snow and ice, to motor gliders in the air, there literally isn't a place on Earth that you couldn't have some fun in by slapping on a motor. So there is no safe space for nature, either! Rev that snowmobile until the snow turns black from the soot. Enjoy riding that jetski until the lake is covered by a shimmery film of oil.
Sometimes, one could consider our use of petrol engines downright cynical. Do you need to cut down a tree, or want to raze an entire forest to the ground? The best way to do it is, of course, using a chainsaw. So as humans are killing and annihilating these majestic wonders of nature, they are doing so using a tool which, at the very same time, adds insult to injury by also blowing a constant stream of deadly, toxic gases into the woods. Better safe than sorry: any piece of nature that may have survived the chainsaw, will surely be finished off by the many harmful substances left behind in the exhaust gas. The destruction of the rainforest is accompanied by the wailing sound of chainsaws and the pungent odour of oily exhaust fumes.
This website is about the fact that some of us aren't just interested in internal combustion engines and their various applications, but also enjoy the things about them that some people wouldn't give a second thought, and most people would consider undesirable side effects. Exhaust fumes fill our air with clouds of smoke, they spread a cutting stench of gasoline and unburnt oil, they contaminate the air we breathe and can make us sick, engines sputter out unburnt mineral oil, soil and corrode our buildings, and have long-term effects on the global climate. Yet, for us, those are some of the very reasons why we like gas engines. We appreciate and relish the sight and smell of their exhaust fumes, we enjoy seeing them being produced by others, and we rejoice in every opportunity we have to produce our own.
There are no political or (anti-)environmental motives behind this. This is not a satire intended to comment on humanity's short-sightedness, nor does the fact that we like exhaust fumes and pollution make us anti-environmentalists. In fact, most of us will happily point out that they are all for efforts to protect the environment. Exhaust fume fans can be environmentally conscious people, and often are. It's only a contradiction at first glance. After all, we need an intact environment and a healthy body in order to be able to continue producing and enjoying exhaust fumes! To be honest, it's also much more fun to blow those fumes into a speck of nature that's still beautiful and pristine…
Personally, this even supports my environmentalist views: if we can solve the problem of the most crucial sources of air pollution, there will be no need to regulate more broadly. In other words, let's clean up our act where it doesn't matter where the energy comes from – power generation, industry, commercial transportation – so that we can leave alone those areas where the use of gas engines itself is part of the fun and appeal. Enduro races with electrical dirtbikes? That would lack most of what makes them fun. Events and sports like that do not contribute any measurable amount to air pollution, yet while riding through the forest, a major part of the appeal is the noise of the engines, and the fact that we get to blow thick blue clouds of exhaust fumes into the trees!
While knowing how toxic and environmentally devastating the gases we blow out of our exhaust pipes are is an important part of the thrill and the allure, it doesn't need to contribute relevant amounts to pollution. It sure is a magnificent and exciting sight when a few dozen two-stroke freaks meet up to make an entire city block, an entire valley, or a woodland area disappear in a thick, blue cloud of noxious fumes. But in the big picture, that's not going to make a difference in air pollution levels. We just enjoy the knowledge that those blue puffs will stay out there, in nature, for a long time to come. Our very own, irreversible contribution to pollution, that will survive as our legacy long after we're gone. A permanent reminder of that time we burned some fuel for no good reason at all, and had an awful lot of fun doing it!
The world's gas engines are burning up our limited supply of fossil fuels, and in the process producing unimaginable amounts of toxic exhaust fumes. To me and many people sharing these interests, this is not only a sad thought, but also an exciting and exhilarating one. It's partly about the lure and the thrill of evil, a titillating way of demonstrating man's power over the environment. A symbol for how man rose above nature, subjugated it, and felt he was no longer dependent on it.
We build polluting machines, out of materials that are in large parts derived from crude oil. Then, we clad ourselves in protective gear made out of synthetic materials, and put on body armour made out of plastics, all also made out of crude oil. Even visually, nothing about our appearance is left to remind us about our natural, flesh-and-bone origins. It probably even helps us overcome psychological barriers. It's much easier to reconcile with ourselves what we're about to do when we look at ourselves and no longer even see how much we are in fact part of the very nature we're about to desecrate. Fully equipped and disguised, we finally fill some more crude oil into that machine of ours, and awaken the beast. Our plastic-wrapped selves, on our plastic vehicles filled with oil, are now finishing off the job by spreading about the most toxic concoction of pollutants imaginable.
Why is this such a titillating feeling? Depending on who you ask, it's part defiance, part deviancy, part spiteful reaction to humanity's recklessness or indifference, part curiosity, part enjoying the thrill of evil and doing something we know is wrong, or just the desire to wreak some havoc every now and then. At other times, it's as simple as finding beauty in the sight of exhaust fumes in nature, finding the sound and feel of a running engine to be pleasing, and relishing the tangy, acerbic smell of the exhaust gas.
Once this website reopens, I want to offer some content that should be interesting to three main audiences.
A person's reaction to discovering that they like exhaust fumes is not commonly followed by a shrug and immediate acceptance. It's definitely a strange and uncommon fondness to discover, and not one that many people would consider sharing publicly and expecting others to understand.
I know this from personal experience. I started discovering that I had a thing for exhaust fumes from a very early age, back in pre-school days. I was confused, but also embarrassed and afraid. Afraid of the social repercussions if anyone found out. So I started hiding this part of me, going to such lengths that in retrospect, the efforts at hiding it were probably more likely to raise suspicion than anything else. And I started repressing these thoughts and feelings, thinking that life would be simpler without them.
Predictably, I found out at some point that this is not a healthy or productive way of going about life. I started learning to accept that, as little explanation as I had for it, this was simply a part of me, and would probably be so for the rest of my life. Eventually, I decided that it would be a waste to not just accept, but also relish it and enjoy it as much as I could. Something that was very important in allowing me to come to that acceptance was that I started, coincidentally, finding like-minded people online. Suddenly I was not, as I had expected, the only one in the world with these weird thoughts anymore. There were hundreds, in fact thousands of others who had discovered some very similar things about themselves. They may not have had any better explanations either, but it was nice to finally have found people who understood, and to compare notes with!
I initially started this website, back in the very early 2000s, with the goal of allowing other people to have that same epiphany. Surely, if there were hundreds of kindred spirits in some dusty corner of the Internet, there must be hundreds of thousands, if not millions of us, out there in the world. A lot of them probably battling with the same doubts and fears. The main goal of creating a website about these topics was always to be as easily locatable as possible for anyone who might belong to that group, but is still confused or unhappy about this side of them, and repressing it. I wanted them to see that they are far from alone, to be able to read my own story about how I discovered and came to terms with it, and maybe relate to parts of the story.
In that, the website was successful beyond my expectations. Over more than 15 years, I have received dozens and dozens of letters from people with similar stories. The confusion, shame and guilt when realising that somehow, for some reason, they're into exhaust fumes or pollution; trying to hide it from family and friends, maybe even from themselves; and finally, the relief of finding out that there are others who feel the same way. The main reason for this site's existence is that I want to enable as many people as possible to experience the same thing in the future and develop a healthy, relaxed, positive relation to their "quirk".
Life is too short to repress any part of you. Many people are making the most of it, actively living out and indulging in their love of exhaust fumes. And so should you!
Naturally, I also intend to provide a lot of interesting content for those already fully aware of and at peace with their pollution-loving side. For them, I will provide access to a lot of interesting materials, including stories and experiences, but also lots of photos and videos of beautiful people blowing beautiful exhaust fumes into unspoiled nature, or otherwise contaminating nature and polluting the environment. Some of these I collected over the years, much of it I created myself. I have my own collection of particularly polluting two-stroke engines, and I enjoy using them to enrich the air with some fresh, nasty fumes. Quite often, I will make sure to record it as well. See it as another way of protecting the environment while having fun polluting it: the more photos and videos we can enjoy of air pollution, the less often we have to do it for real!
Maybe we can even facilitate some events. It's always great to share a passion, and with everyone bringing their dirtiest motors, think of what a magnificent shroud of exhaust fumes we could bring to some nice corner of the world! Local residents will be sure to remember it. How fondly is anyone's guess.
If none of this makes any sense to you, if you have read this far (wow!) and still are not quite sure what this is all about – I hope that the full website will also be of interest to you. This is not an easy topic to explain to outsiders. Heck, it makes very little sense to most of us, so how could we hope to explain it to others?
Undeterred, I'll still give it my best try. Over the years, struggling with accepting this part of me, I have come up with all kinds of theories on how and why this could have come about. I'm no psychologist (although I'd love the opportunity to work with one in trying to gain more insight!), but I like reading and researching, so I've come up with a variety of potential explanations. Although ultimately, I'm not hoping that any of this will ever make rational sense, it helps to see how human nature, and the human mind and body, could possibly come up with something like this. After all, it's very ironic for a human body to evolve into innately liking something that is so detrimental to its health, and the survival of its species. We should also be looking for mates that seem capable of ensuring the health and safety of our potential offspring, so why am I more attracted to a woman, the more thoughtlessly she poisons the environment we need to survive?
Part of this section will be a very detailed list of all the aspects of motors, exhaust fumes, air pollution, and environmental destruction that I like, or that add to the excitement for me. A lot of this will tie into the psychological theories I have for the origin of the fondness as a whole. Apart from the aspects already mentioned, there are a few other, somewhat related things I subconsciously started to like, such as tree fellings and forest logging, motorsports gear and helmets, body armor, synthetic and protective clothing such as rain and winter jackets, wetsuits, and so on. A lot of it related to the idea of man dissociating himself from, and protecting himself against, nature, even as he is in the process of polluting and destroying it. I will mention all of these aspects as well and put them in relation to each other.
This is the section with the most potential of giving outsiders some insight into an exhaust fume buff's mind, although really, it's just me rambling about my story and thoughts.
The more, the merrier! Will me and other like-minded people waxing lyrical about how beautiful exhaust fumes are to look at, how much fun it is to produce them and pollute nature for no reason at all, or how delicious they smell, have a chance at getting someone into exhaust fumes who wouldn't even have thought about it before? I have no idea, but why rule out the possibility? I would certainly not be unhappy to live in a world where recreational air pollution is a wide-spread and established pastime! To be honest, we're not too far from that, anyway. Have a look around your local karting or motocross track, or head for the beach and take a whiff of the fumes blown inshore from the jetski riders, or notice how teenagers enjoy taking their time warming up their motor scooters, revving the engine at the red light, or leaving the engine running as they chat with their friends. More people are aware of how much fun it is to pollute than we might think. Even I still get surprised sometimes! When I'm at a motorsports event or visiting the karting track, I still subconsciously assume that I'm the only one there who is into the fumes and smell, but invariably see and hear things that would suggest otherwise. For example, I might see a rider teasing someone by revving the engine while they pass behind them, blowing a cloud of exhaust at them. Or overhear an athlete or spectator comment to someone about the nice smell when the engines are being warmed up. Or notice a girl at the karting track, taking her time getting ready for the race – but curiously choosing to do so right behind the exhaust pipe of the already running engine…
Finally, I wish that anyone who would enjoy polluting the air with exhaust fumes would feel comfortable to do so, and have the opportunity to. It's so fun and satisfying that it would be a shame not to. But I know that a lot of people who find out about their fondness for exhaust gas are still quite young, they might still live with their parents, or in the city with fewer opportunities to use engines, not have a driver's license, and various other complications. Finding a way to get to polluting can seem like an extremely difficult task. I would like to tell all of those people: there's always a way, I found a few of them in my own time, and your exhaust gas fun could be closer and simpler than you imagined. You could be out there burning fuel and polluting today or tomorrow!
That's the great thing about the ubiquity and affordability of gas-powered engines: there are no situations or circumstances in which you can't find a way to get to use one! I want to show that there are no barriers of age, sex, origin, place of living, or financial means that prevent you from burning gas for fun. The first engine I owned was a lawn trimmer, much like the one described in the first paragraph of this page, which I got used for just a few bucks – you could probably even find one for free! A lovely coincidence is that the cheapest engines are often the most polluting, so even if you're strapped for cash, there's a good chance you'll be able to acquire a small appliance engine that, given its physical size, will blow your mind with the amount of thick, blue exhaust fumes it can produce!
I plan to give some concrete hints for all aspiring recreational exhaust fume producers. Which types of engines work well, and where you can get them for almost no expense at all. What kind of fuel and oil you need, how to get it and how to mix it. How to ensure that your engine produces the largest, thickest, most pungent fumes possible, and get them to smell the best, while ensuring that you also take care of your engine. You don't want to foul it up in the first few minutes of getting it to run, but make sure it has a long life ahead of it, filled with countless hours of blowing filth into the environment!
Ultimately, I think the only situation in which producing exhaust fumes is entirely justifiable and defensible is when they are produced for sheer fun, joy, and pleasure. Because then, there is no substitute! You can't replace a dirty two-stroke engine with an electric motor if the entire reason you're using it is for the love of the fumes, the smell, the noise, the pollution. So go out there, save a two-stroke, fuel it up, and let the exhaust pipe do what it was built for! And try to get some other people hooked, as well – just point your tailpipe in their direction and blow a few fumes at them. They can't start liking something they haven't been confronted with!
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