The drama continues to unfold in the world of street racing. As Street Outlaw Isreal “Izzy” Valenzuela, awaits his fate from a Los Angeles court, for being involved in an illegal street race that killed two people in Chatsworth, California, others across the nation are continuing to show their support for this form of drag racing.
Last weekend, a group of gear heads organized what they called a ‘legal’ street race in Northwest Houston, TX. Thousands of spectators converged on a closed eighth of a mile street to witness around 50 high powered street legal cars to compete for bragging rights and a chance at a $10,000 win.
According to ABC 13, in Houston, TX, organizers of ‘Dig Night’ wanted to give competitors a chance to “get off the street and to a safe area/atmosphere to do what they do in a street race,” said event organizer Faisal Rahman.
This race was organized just two days after two Houston, TX residents were arrested for illegally street racing on a highway and hitting a third car that was not involved in this race. Fortunately, the driver of the third car was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. There were also two other well known street racing accidents that occurred just days before this ‘street legal’ race.
In St. Louis, MO, at least three cars were involved in a street racing wreck that led to two people being taken to an area hospital in serious condition.
Just four days later, a father and son decided to take each other on in a head to head battle during a busy lunch hour on Stephenson Highway, in Troy, Mich. While bystanders remained unscathed, Rick Ladd, destroyed his brand new high-performance Mustang after rolling it three times, which also sent him to a local hospital.
Stating that, “this is something we are going to do no matter what,” we can’t help but wonder, is legal street racing event organizer Rahman really understanding the true meaning of street racing?
The Burnout at RacingJunk.com caught up with a few of our drag performance readers to get their thoughts.
Donald Coleman who is an avid drag racing fan, said that he is supportive of organized street races like what fans had an opportunity to witness in Texas last weekend.
“Texas has a great idea organizing a legal street race and I believe if we could see more of this around the country with law enforcement chaperoning the events would eventually become accepted by the community,” said Coleman. “The only thing I did notice about this race is that bystanders, including the police, were all crowding around the cars….and there is no way that is a safe practice. With street racing everyone should be behind the starting line as streets don’t have safety fences to prevent cars from running off the street and into a crowd.”
Businessman David Mendez, is placing some of the blame on organizations like the NHRA who he feels are fueling the need to street race. “I believe that one of the fundamental issues isn’t being addressed here. The NHRA isn’t catering to the younger generation of hot rodders, they have been left to fend for themselves,” said Mendez. “This has inherently created an underground world of unsafe street racing. Fortunately, there are some that have begun to organize their own events in safe environments such as existing drag strips and airstrips. In the Pacific Northwest there’s a group that have started rotating track events and they are very well attended…..Focus on the audience/attendees and you’ll begin to address the issue.”
Leonard Warren President of Tech Line Coatings, Inc., who has even had his brush with street racing in the 1960’s, agrees with Mendez and feels that the NHRA is pushing drivers to the streets to fuel their passion. “I agree street racing is stupid and even more so than in the 1960’s when I was doing it. The street legal race in Texas is a smart idea, and if properly handled would help the sport. The NHRA should be helping not hindering such efforts,” said Warren.
“It’s true that this organization would not make any money directly, but more people would be interested in competing, which could lead to new ideas and efforts that are badly needed. Even in my business we are looking at markets well beyond racing, and we see far more potential in other markets than racing. I will not leave the racing market because I am a … racer and we work on new and improved products constantly for racing, but I also see the problems and need to make business adjustments to keep the business growing. Now if only NHRA (and NASCAR) would do the same.”
Automotive professional Bob Beck feels that promoting street racing of this nature is dangerous. “The NHRA has taken a stand against shows like Street Outlaws and most forms of street racing because those that try and emulate them are causing death and injury. It may be fun, but it is far from safe,” said Beck.
“Many street racers do not come to a track (there are four in Southern California alone) because the cars or driver will not pass tech due to the use of nitrous oxide along insufficient safety equipment. Safety is not a simple foolish risk and improper, inadequate or nonexistent safety equipment will not be changed unless the racers go to a legitimate track….These competitors are criminals and the proof is the two people killed along with one injured last month right here in Los Angeles, an area where drag tracks are available every week.
The NHRA races you see on TV are not representative of what happens at local tracks, but the NHRA was the first to recognize and address street racing as an issue that can be worked on and reduced. While no one can stop this completely, California could consider taking away your car as a solution.”
While drag racing organizers and competitors continue to do what it takes to compete, 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 drama continues.