"Tuning has nothing to do with racing": Lukas Zecher, founder of the media agency It's tuning, not racing

"Tuning does not stand for old mobility. It will also exist for e-mobility."

Interview with tuning fan and company founder Lukas Zecher.

Mr. Zecher, you are the founder and head of "It's Tuning, not Racing" and have a booth at IAA. What does your company do?

We are a digital media and event agency and are committed to fighting illegal street racing and speeding. At the same time, we want to get people excited about legal and roadworthy tuning.

I got my driver's license when I was 16, and of course I've seen people get hurt in illegal street races. The problem is getting worse, by the way: since 2017, the number of deaths from these crimes has doubled. I then founded a film and video production company as an adult and started producing videos to discourage young people from illegal street racing, including the 20-minute short film "The First Race", which aims to be prevention at the same time as it celebrates tuning culture. Both the deeds of criminals and tuning are always lumped together. But tuners actually have nothing to do with this topic. 
Our latest project "Red Lights" is our most extensive film project to date. It was realized with up to 70 people on set and depicts the typical situation of an illegal street race, in which a young man, the rapper Henry, is animated to race by an opponent. His girlfriend, the singer Madita, talks him into conscience and the young man realizes more and more that he actually can't control the car anymore. I won't tell you how it turns out.

Madita, the singer plays in “Red Lights”, Lukas Zecher's new video
Madita, the singer plays in “Red Lights”, Lukas Zecher's new video

Tuning has a somewhat grubby image, for most people it's something to do with lowering, spoilers and wide rims. It stands for lower class. What is tuning from your point of view?

Tuning means optimizing my dream car, and people from all walks of life do that. I embellish the appearance of the car, even in an eccentric way, I improve the technology, I do everything to make it look exclusive. To some extent, these are works of art on the road. There are, of course, aesthetic borrowings from motorsport. But only visually and legally. If you want more, go to the racetrack. I'm celebrating mobility and the fun of it. Tuning is a part of pop culture with its own signs and styles and rules. That's always overlooked and devalued.

But tuning also has a very social component. We are a community that supports each other, that knows each other and that meets.

What will we see at your booth during IAA Mobility? 

We are presenting three different vehicles, which in turn exemplify the different tuning styles: the American, the Asian and the European. We have a 30-year-old Ford Escort. It is completely silver, including the interior and the engine block. It's completely clean, completely reduced. This tuning tradition is very American. As a representative of the Asian variant, a Nissan 350 Z can be seen here as the first Rocket Bunny conversion in Europe. Rocket Bunny is a tuning term and stands for extreme wide bodies. Typical Asian is also a brute show spoiler and lots of stickers. As a European car we present a BMW Z1, that legendary car, which could not exist today with its retractable doors. The engine is extremely rebuilt, the car otherwise convinces with rather fine tuning measures. 

The Nissan 350Z, one of the darlings of the tuning scene as an extreme wide body, tuning term: Rocket Bunny     
Ford Escort

The IAA sees itself as a marketplace for ideas on future mobility. Doesn't tuning actually stand for yesterday's mobility? 

No, absolutely not. Tuning stands for the individualization of mobility, which I believe will remain extremely important, especially in the age of e-mobility. That's why what we do is up to date and fits very well into the new world. 

Even if we all drive electrically in the near future, people still want an individualized vehicle, they still want to have fun driving. 
And in the age of e-mobility, prevention from illegal street racing is perhaps even more important when you think about the enormous acceleration.


Here, e-mobility and the networking that goes with it could offer the possible solutions that should be thought about, taking into account legal and technical issues. After all, the use of AI (artificial intelligence) can help prevent accidents. If illegal car racing cannot be averted through campaigns and good coaxing, one could think about doing it technically.  Maybe at some point there will be systems that signal a driver: There are two speeding cars moving toward me right now, then an AI system could intervene and slow down the endangered person. 

No: new mobility is enormously important for us as an agency and will not make our topics disappear. On the contrary: with our focus on tuning as the joy of individualized driving, which after all does not depend on the drive, and accident prevention, we are exactly right at the IAA and are looking forward to it.