Fans are used as a measure of progression in both the single player career mode and online multiplayer mode. They are a new version of Project Gotham's Kudos system. The progression in each mode is separated which means that fans unlocked in one mode don't add to the other modes total.
Accumulating fans unlock more cars at certain fan levels. In Career Mode these levels are known as fan status and have a maximum of level 25. In Online Multiplayer they are known as ranks. In online multiplayer fans also unlock modifications and challenges. Fans are earned by performing stunts and power up manuvers in a race such as hitting an opponent with a power-up, drifting, successfully defending against a power-up attack, landing a large jump and reaching 3rd, 2nd and 1st place.
A certain amount of Fans must be earned in each single player event except One-on-One events in order to earn a light. These Fan targets change between races.
Fan Runs require players to drive through a certain amount of gates without missing any with a specific time frame. Doing so earns additional Fans with that event as well as an additional light.
Fan Demands require players to perform specific tasks within an event in a certain amount of time. These can include power up attacks, stunts, combos or mixtures of those three. These also earn an extra amount of Fans with an event that hosts them.