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high-rise canyons, over wide bridges and beneath them along the Yangtze River. Traffic is heavy. Harry takes advantage of every little gap that offers itself to him. “The Mercedes-AMG A 45 is perfect for this city traffic on account of its feistiness and agility,” he explains. H Harry has arranged to meet two club members. They are employed as public officials. He doesn’t say more. Unlike Harry, Xiao Li, 34, and Yang Yang, 39, speak very little English. But they drive the exact same Mercedes-AMG model as he does. The cars are like identical triplets that differ only in tiny details: Xiao Li has a few red accents on the rear wings. And Yang Yang, who once spun a few laps at an AMG event as a front-seat passenger of former Formula One world champion Mika Häkkinen, is on the road without a license plate. Is that allowed? “On an interim basis, yes,” says Yang Yang. “I’ve ordered new plates and have been waiting a long time. But the authorities can’t keep up because too many cars are being registered in Chongqing.” Right now the FFAC has 30 members. It isn’t supposed to get any larger, even though a lot more Mercedes- AMG A 45 models are cruising the streets of Chongqing. “Everything here is big and grand,” says Harry. “That is precisely why our club should remain exclusive. Massive city, tiny club — that has a certain charm.” On the club’s excursions to more rural areas, it’s not just about the pleasure of driving for him and his AMG gang. Usually, they explain, they pack their rear seats and trunks full of clothing, food, vitamins and medicines and bring these relief supplies to the needy. Mostly to schools and kindergartens where almost thirdworld living conditions prevail, just a few hours’ drive from Chongqing’s glittering reality. T “The aid supplies are important to us and come from the heart,” explains Yang Yang, himself the father of a small son. “Whoever can lead a life such as ours must be grateful and help others.” Harry and Xiao Li nod. After discussing everything necessary for the next club excursion and assigning tasks, the trio heads down to the Yangtze River, to a container port that provides enough space between rail lines and cranes to practice a bit of drifting. O On the way they pick up another club member: Kong Yin, 25, also a businessman. He drives a yellow Mercedes-AMG A 45. “You and your yellow sportster,” laughs Harry and thumps his friend on the shoulder in playful sympathy. He and the others like to make fun of Kong Yin’s car: Yellow, they say sniffily, is the color of the taxis. “Guys, those are only superficialities,” Yin retorts. Then he steers his Mercedes-AMG down toward the harbor. When drifting, Yin clearly stands out from his competitors. Tires squeal, dust swirls. A couple of curious harbor and office employees come closer and watch the spectacle. They marvel at the quartet’s stunts; film, photograph and applaud them. These guys from Chongqing know what they’re doing. And what they are doing is obviously enjoyable to them as the sun sets slowly and quite garishly over the silhouette of the harbor of their hometown. While Chongqing relentlessly grows and grows with each passing second. 39


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