1954 Compton Street Race Bust Signals Beginning of Illegal Street Racing

The illegal street racing phenomenon has a long, storied, tragic history. In light of yet another death in San Bernardino just yesterday,  the third such crash in Southern California this year, we look back at an event credited with kicking off the street-racing craze.

It’s 1954 on a streetlight lit night in Compton, California. The air is not quiet, it’s filled with the normal rumbles and honks of city night-life, but on a narrow straight away behind a back ally the roars are a little louder and the tension and teenage angst in the air is thick as butter. Street racers from all over the city, ranging in ages from 15 to 21 lined up with their home-built hot-rods ready to prove their worth. What was about to play out that night was an event that would make story head lines coast to coast. Tonight the favors of these young delinquents would turn against them. Someone had tipped off the law, and before the festivities could began a slew of 16 souped up patrol cars and 60 local police officers surrounded the area. Try as they might to out maneuver and out run the army of cruisers, their efforts were in vein. The officers arrested 125 racers including four girls and impounded their cars. The story was such a sensation that it is partially credited with starting the craze for racing and hot-rod related movies that soon found themselves in theaters all across America.

To read more, check out this piece on BangShift.com that links to the original article on the bust:

BangShift’s “The Hot Rod Menace: A Huge Street Racing Bust From 1954!”

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