Illegal Street Racing Gaining Attention

LA Street Racing

With the popularity of television shows like the Discovery Channel’s Street Outlaws, illegal street racing continues to be at the forefront of many drag racing fans these days.  Love it or hate it, it is hard to look away from the sound of revving engines and a car taking off from the starting line.

Following the NHRA’s recent crackdown of those who participate in the so-called reality show that promotes a very deadly form of racing, lightning continued to strike recently after Isreal “Izzy” Valenzuela, who made a cameo appearance when the Street Outlaws Oklahoma cast made a trip to challenge the famed street racers in California, was arrested for his connection with an illegal street race that killed two people in Chatsworth, California.

Izzy, who was driving the second car (not the mustang that killed bystanders) was denied bail this week and will await his next court date on March 26.

According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Valenzuela is currently facing two counts of murder and one count of engaging in a motor vehicle speed contest on a highway.  Although it seems that the well known 38-year-old street racer and racing performance shop owner, was not driving the Mustang that killed 26-year-old Eric Siguenza and 50-year-old William Thomas Wong, he was competing against competitor Henry Michael Gevorgyan on an open city street full of spectators, ultimately leading to this crash.  If convicted, both Valenzuela and Gevorgyan could face a possible sentence of 33 years to life in prison.

Unfortunately, this isn’t even the first account of deaths in this nature.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were over 1,000 people were killed due to street  racing accidents between 2001 and 2010.  As the fan base at many tracks across the country continues to dwindle are more drag racers going to turn to this form of racing to fuel their need for speed?

The Burnout at RacingJunk.com caught up with a few of our drag performance readers to get their thoughts on illegal street racing.

While Professional drag racer and owner of Plum Quick Motors, in Fort Mill, SC, Robby Steen said he actually enjoys watching Street Outlaws he remains opposed to street racing.

“Street Racing like everything else has consequences, and if it we’re just the racers life on the line on a private road that is one thing, but street racing on public roads is just stupid,” said Steen.

“I know most if not all drivers have done it in the past and some in the present and we all tend to think that things happen to others, but surely not to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show Street Outlaws, but the keyword is ‘SHOW’, you all do know that their racing is in a controlled environment?”

Steen’s point is exactly why many professional drag racers actually can watch shows of this nature and still realize that groups like Racers Against Street Racing (RASR), who are dedicated to spreading the word that racing belongs on the track and not on public streets, exist.

Ohio native and weekend drag racing warrior, Douglas Markel agrees with groups like the RASR and the NHRA, who would rather see the glorification of street racing completely abolished.

“I do not support any type of street racing. It’s dangerous and illegal,” said Markel.  “It’s the view point from Joe Public that street racing is acceptable. I understand and support the NHRA’s stance with not promoting street racing. It has nothing to do with money, it’s all about safety! The guys participating in the Street Outlaw show are there for the notoriety and the show. They should also be speaking out against illegal street racing and that this is just a show not what they promote. It’s sad that publicly we don’t promote the local tracks for an evening of fun with racing or just simple test and tune. Most tracks hold promotional nights where you can spend an evening going down the track or have a grudge race for less than $20. As for Izzy Valenzuela, he knew it was illegal to street race. My heart sinks and prayers go out for those killed and injured during that street race.”

Izzy P on Street Outlaws VideoClick the above image for a video

Recent Behind The Wheel featured Top Fuel Driver, Lex Joon had his own ideas of offering a safer version of street racing.

“The form of auto-racing that Valenzuela was involved in and what the Discovery Channel seems to want to promote is illegal which makes it hard to understand why its promoted at all,” said Joon. “Sometimes I get the idea some scenes are staged as it is illegal but the actual scene is filmed on a closed location. In the Netherlands we have an airfield that is open three times a year for ‘street-racers’, which is similar to what these drivers are really doing on this show.  Any form of racing should not be done on the street, as a street is not made for high speed racing.   Giving the viewers the idea that what these drivers are doing is all illegal is not right. Now with two people killed it is out of control and shows like this should be banned from television. I agree with the NHRA when they make a statement to drivers who have a NHRA race license. There is no reason what so ever to be part of illegal racing, especially not when you are a licensed driver.”

Although most drivers in this sport are completely against street racing, there are those who continue to support those who just want to do what they love.  Performance Consultant, Bruce Kit and Morris Rogers, Owner of Big Mo’s Parts in San Antonio, TX both agree that street racing are part of this sport’s history and possibly it’s future.

“Although it is Politically Correct to say street racing is bad and illegal, it always was and attempting to stop it will be as effective as prohibition, and as effective as the war against drugs,” said Kit. “Street racing is a clandestine affair, that will go on even after all the gas motors are in museums and we are humming around in solar powered electric cars. It is human nature to compete in many forms. People die when street racing, yes but people also die mountain climbing accidents. Should we outlaw that also? Add up the number of deaths in all dangerous sports and street racing accounts for how much – maybe 1 percent? I once scuba dived, which is somewhat dangerous. People climb to high peaks, strap on slippery waxed boards, hurtle off snowy mountains and dodge trees and rocks at break neck speeds (we call it skiing).  How many people die skiing every year? A bunch I bet, including Cher’s Ex-Husband Sonny Bono.  Harrison Ford just had an incident in a 75-year-old warplane, could have killed himself and a bunch of other people. Feel free to tell him its safer to stay on the couch! I will wager he will fly again. Manufacturers are building cars and trucks that exceed 500hp commonly when we need perhaps 100hp to commute. You gonna tell them to stop? If you really want to cure the problem, cure stupidity. Then we would not have drinking and driving, drug problems and more. If people were a tad smarter, they would only do safe boring things. But people might object. Yes you can try to control people, but at what cost? There are thousands of things that I object to but street racing is one that’s not on the top of my list. Stupid people street racing though, bumps it higher on my list though.”

“Your never gonna stop the Street Outlaws – that’s why they call them outlaws,” said Rogers.  “Street racing has been going on for 75+ years. Don’t get me wrong it’s dangerous and anything can happen and sooner or later your luck might run out. The tracks are safer and emergency services are immediately available, but you run the risk of injury to yourself and others even at the track. Drag racing is never going away on any level either as for as I can see and I’ve been racing for 50+ years. The biggest problem we face today is the tracks closing in large numbers and no minor or major entities helping or supporting the tracks. If the NHRA and IHRA want street racing to stop, then they need to help stop all the small track’s from closing. But the truth is all they see are the professionals. They say they are there for the little guy but come race day it’s all about the pro classes. But they make a lot of money from entry fee’s, certification’s, license, etc. from the little guy’s and they pay out very little to them. My point is, if you go grudge race a guy on the street you can make some serious cash. Where can you go make $2.500 cash in less than 5-minutes? Yes they should do it at the track but that’s hard to do when it’s closed. You see it’s a tough job getting the little known drag racer to go to the track and beat his car up for eight or nine rounds to walk out with a $500 win. NHRA is just mad that the show Street Outlaws is getting more attention than they are.”

While both government officials and organizations like the NHRA put their heart and soul into finding the safest ways for drag racers to continue to do what they love in the safest way possible, we urge you, our readers, to continue to voice your opinion on both street and other forms of drag racing below.  Continue to stay tuned to The Burnout on RacingJunk.com as this case unfolds.

 

 

About Ellen Richardson 166 Articles
Ellen Richardson is the author of Behind The Wheel for RacingJunk.com. This automotive sports junkie has a passion for telling an athlete's story while also covering various racing activities. Find out more about her at ellennrichardson.wordpress.com or follow Ellen on Twitter at @ellennrich or Instagram at elnrich33.
  • TC

    Who copy edits this stuff? If you’re going to put your name on it, re-read it before releasing it! A mantra all journalists should live by!

    • Scott Petroskey

      *Montra….Just sayin.

      • TC

        Webster’s definition and spelling of MANTRA: : a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone’s basic beliefs. MONTRA IS NOT A WORD!

      • Dave Herrington

        Sorry Scott, your spelling police credentials have been suspended until you can prove montra is even a word, heck even now it has that cute squiggly red line under it.

  • Mike tiffin

    Racing on the street has been done for many years, I remember in school going out on the back roads and getting it on as most everyone has done and your right about it not stopping, when a event is put on all they want is to see the big dogs run and collect money from the little guy like me and others, we run 5-6 races which hurts our car to collect hardly anything, and they pay out big money to the big dogs that we payed to run, so there’s no way you can walk away with any money but scraps left over, if the little tracks were open we’d run there but there not so why beat up on your car all night for nothing, we were using a airstrip to run on and it got shut down no wheel to wheel racing yet they let the guys that drift keep right on doing what they were doing and run us off think if bigger tracks let the little ones open it would be a lot safer,

  • Bruce A Kit

    According to National Ski Areas Association (NSAA): During past 10 years, about 38 people have died skiing/snowboarding per year. We should make skiing and snowboarding illegal also.

    • Angie Lane

      I’m with you 100 percent!!!

  • Dale E. Kipp

    Television producers would have 2 men with knives fighting to the death if it was allowed.
    If these guys can spend thousands of dollars on a car and motor, they can afford an entrance fee a the local dragstrip

    • Nicholas Rowland

      That would be fine, but all the tracks are closed down that were in our area. When you put all you have in to your ride, you ain’t got enough money to trailer your shit 2-3hrs away. So you just go a few blocks down from your house, race all night, and have a kick ass time with all your buddies.

    • Dave Herrington

      It has so little to do with money in reality, we used to race just for bragging rights and it was way easier and much more fun to finish cruising on Colby and drive 15 minutes to Checkered Flag Tavern and race on the big 5 lane Boeing access road. A hundred deaths a year is pretty far down the ladder when compared to drunk driving, pedestrians deaths not attached to any kind of racing, boating accidents or accidental deaths in hospitals due to doctor error. This is just the latest Boogie Man the media has gotten interested in. And please, the NHRA doesn’t give a crap about the little guy, they’re just afraid the negative publicity will have an impact on their cash cow sport they’ve ruined by homogenizing the cars just like Nascar did.

  • jeff miller

    This the biggest fake on television, PLEASE fake arrest them.

  • Donny Latsch

    It’s a show. To cancel the show due to its nature. Would mean….no more law and order. Csi. No movies or shows where there is a j walker. A murder. A rape. No more shows where any illegal activities are depicted. The old Looney Tunes would be off the air for depicting violence. in fact even most children shows would be off the air as they have “villians” people would no longer be able to choose between right and wrong. … as they would lose the gut feeling of “I Shouldn’t be doing this” if you have to hide from coos to keep from being arrested (as depicted in the show) they are portraying that society shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing. I look forward to another season of Street Outlaws. I am also excited by the amount of enthusiasm it has re introduced to people who “use to drag race” many of the people I know who use to…. are putting together cars to come out to Ontario Canada tracks that are holding grudge match weekends. Tracks need to Start promoting events that enable us little guys If they want to stay open And fun.

  • Dicky Hitt

    The average annual deaths for recreational boating is about 700 for the United States. If looked at over ten years, like this article did, that’s almost 7 times more than Street racing. We should outlaw these death traps!! lol

  • William Smith

    “You see it’s a tough job getting the little known drag racer to go to
    the track and beat his car up for eight or nine rounds to walk out with a
    $500 win.”That says it all!

  • Mike Mast

    I read that over 170,000 (yes 170,000) die in hospitals each year due to medically preventable accidents,while 1 preventable death is a dire tragedy,I think we have to put things in perspective when discussing the risk reward equation…

  • ralphwylie

    Living is dangerous and everything living ALWAYS ends in death. Who is so self-righteous, judgmental and pious to tell anyone else how they die? Gentlemen start your engines, kill yourself if you like, just don’t kill anyone else not racing.

    • William Pierce

      Who? The do-gooders and control freaks in our government and media. That’s who!

  • papagrune123

    The Street Outlaws is staged in the respect that where they run is a controlled environment. The races are viewed by people at the starting area. It would appear there are a couple of camera’s along “the track” Most street racers, race at areas where people are not at. Industrial, and other areas where people are at… Living in a small rural area people went out of town and raced. In the large city they went to mostly unused factory, industrial area… BUT There was a cruse-drag street where the naughty stuff happened. The POPO did hang out there.

  • Rich

    If the GOVERNMENT would buy and run some of the closing race tracks,
    maybe they could get it off the street. They build multibillon dollar
    stadiums, golf courses, etc. Isn’t it time for us racers?
    Where are you government officials? Chime in.

    • you really think that would be do able? If the gov. could actually run it, they would paperwork the hell out of it.

  • Mike De La Palma

    Bring real street racing to the track then.No limits on bets and a certified notary present at the track to transfer titles lost after races.Let’s be real.Bring the Fast and Furious rush and life to the little track so It won’t close.Really seriously in Paul walkers Honor and Memory.We all should start the N.F.F.A. = National Fast & Furious Association.Let Paul Walkers Legacy live on America.Proceeds will go to the Walker Family and the Philippines people.America who is with me.Let’s make this way Bigger than the N.H.R.A. Let’s make it happen.That is my Dream.I hope Racing Junk can make it happen. My name is Mike and my # is 484-721-3956 Call me so we can start the movement for Paul Walker.The True Hollywood Racing Legend. 😉

  • Bob D

    Back in the 80’s when I was involved in street racing the reason we did it had nothing to do with paying to get into the track. It was waiting in line to race that killed it for us. We went to Englishtown and you were lucky to get in two maybe three runs on a good night. That was after driving from Brooklyn, NY to NJ to race.

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