To start things off, street racing reality T.V. shows are all but real. I have spent many years in the street racing community of Detroit, and what you see on T.V. is what you would expect. Actors, fake drama, set-up races, and unrealistic situations. Although the shows are scripted and essentially there is no real danger involved, real street racing is very much alive, dangerous and illegal.
Organized drag racing at a legitimate race track is still dangerous, but it’s not illegal. And the danger of racing to the drivers and the by standers are greatly reduced by safety regulation and on site medical abilities.
Unfortunately, street racing has in allure of an outlaw mentality, something that often draws in younger participants and is viewed as cool and sexy. Breaking the law this way doesn’t bring the hammer down on a person to hard. You are not going to do prison time if you are caught drag racing and it’s pretty hard for police to prove the act of betting. And maybe that is the biggest problem with street racing, the punishment does not fit the crime. Let’s face it, a couple of points on your record and a $100.00 fine doesn’t really say, “hey, were cracking down on this illegal activity.” Even worse, in my days of street racing, the chances of getting caught were even more than slim to none. And, although bookies get hassled day-and-night for taking bets on sports, in all my days of racing, I have yet to see anyone get arrested for placing illegal bets on a race.
As a street racers I have witnessed accidents, by standers hit by cars, fights over money (sometimes with weapons involved), innocent people who were not involved in the racing seen injured, the loss of expensive vehicles that could have been saved with proper safety equipment, but I have been lucky enough not to witness death first-hand, but then again, who knows. Since the activity that everyone is engaged in is illegal, the minute something bad happens, everyone runs for the hills and if someone was in need of serious medical help, no one would ever know.
That cast a stain on what you encounter at a legal drag strip: family fun, safe and organized atmosphere, friendly completion that results in a purse for winners, rules and regulation that gives everyone a fear chance to win, and by most accounts an inexpensive cover charge.
When you go to the race track, you are joining a community of people who are all gather together to enjoy the same thing: good and safe racing. A place where racers and spectators are complemented for the best conditions as possible. A safe track that is prepared to handle high-speeds, a pit area designed for cars to be tuned, fix, and prepped for racing, safety regulation that must be followed for the safety of the racer and the safety of everyone else. Fans will also enjoy conveniences that can’t be offered on the street. Grandstands to put them safely out of the way of danger, but in a perfect place to see all of the action. Concession stands, a place for barbequing and picnicking, places for you to go to the bathroom, all of this without the worry of running from the cops or seeing an accidents that never should of happen.
I have been there before, I have been arrested, seen accidents, watched fights breakout etc. All of which leaves a bad taste in your month when you think about a sport that is supposed to be good clean fun and exciting. Most of the racing community are honesty good people, even street racers can fall into that category. Street racing is a quick rush of adrenaline, an illegal, dangerous activity that just doesn’t seem like an act that can injury, even kill people, not to mention the nuisance to the neighborhood that it causes, the police power it takes to police the activities, and the bad light that it cast on legal drag the racing seen.
It’s easy for people to stereotype legal drag racers into the group with illegal street racers and look down on the sport altogether. Maybe if people knew just how safe and fun it is to legally drag race, they probably would look at the sport in a different way, but as long as people are street racing then that may never be.