An Excellent Article on Street Racing
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Author: [ January 08 2005, 9:58 PM ]
Post subject:  An Excellent Article on Street Racing

There was an excellent article in The Toronto Star today, (one of Toronto's largest daily newspapers). I agree completely with the article in response to the original letter that I fealt it necessary to post here by cut and paste as opposed to just linking to there website, so that it will be here on this forum indefinately.

The original letter sent in to the paper (Printed in The Toronto Star, Wheels Section:Your View, January 1st, 2004)

Street racers need fair and realistic solutions

I am a police officer and an avid car enthusiast. I am in support of street racing, and I'll elaborate.

First, the notion that anyone with a modified vehicle is a "street racer" is untrue and ignorant. We are "car enthusiasts" with many being professional, hard working and responsible people. If two people race down a main road with lots of traffic during the day, they're idiots. Don't group them in with the rest of us because their actions are not condoned.

But I don't see the harm in two guys racing down a deserted industrial road at 2 a.m. with nobody around. The only people they can hurt is themselves, and I have yet to hear of a fatality under those circumstances.

People have been racing their cars on the streets for more than 50 years and you'd be naïve to think it's going to stop now. The more police push them, the more underground they go and I don't see that as a solution.

There is absolutely no dialogue or open communication between police and "the scene." I would even say that the police are hated. That may be because every time one of these guys moves, they're nailed with everything under the sun. Heck, I'd be ticked too.

A statement often heard is to "take it to the track." This is usually uttered by people who speak before they think and who have no knowledge or understanding of the facts.

I would like to see information gathered and a project set up to address this issue in hopes of finding a resolution where people can race in the GTA without it being on a populated road.

I believe this would lessen the incidence of spontaneous racing on main roads while still providing an outlet for these guys. I'd be happier knowing that they're racing, rather than stealing cars or breaking into homes.

Name and address supplied,
but withheld on request

A couple of response letters sent in to the paper from other readers (Printed in (The Toronto Star, Wheels Section:Your View, January 8th, 2005)

Racers learn from history

Re: Street racers need fair and realistic solutions

Yourview, Jan. 1

I could not believe the comments made by the anonymous police officer regarding car-tuner enthusiasts and their illegal street-racing activities. These illegal racers aren't wearing fireproof suits, helmets, likely do not have roll bars or window retraint systems let alone a safety crew standing by to deal with emergencies.

He also dismisses (although he never explains why) those who say "take it to the track." History teaches us good lessons and the officer would do well to study the southern California car scene in the late 1950s and through the '60s. Many car enthusiasts were enjoying the increasing number of high-performance vehicles being produced. They were in the same boat — conducting dangerous and illegal street races.

Many of them banded together into car clubs and approached the community and local law enforcement to find safe and controlled environments to race. Abandoned airports and other similar venues were the birth of many of today's major automotive sporting events.

As a starter, how about the real estate at the old Downsview airport?The officer should be approaching the police association and local politicians to find places like this that will help tuner enthusiasts enjoy their passion legally and safely.

I'm disappointed that an officer of the law can't get his head out from under the hood long enough to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

N. Romani, Scarborough


Street racing is illegal. Why should a group of "car enthusiasts" expect a municipality or the province to supply them with a publicly-funded road on a regular basis, let alone not have any say on how it is used?

The owner of any property holds the legal liability for activity that occurs on it.

Anyone who thinks otherwise should see how their insurance company would view you allowing an unregulated party on your front lawn, just because it's night and you're not using it.

Similarly, many of the modifications made to cars, in addition to affecting the safety of the vehicle, likely violate the conditions of the vehicle insurer.

While they may only be small in number, the "car enthusiasts" who drive as if any road, at any time of day, is their personal race track are hurting the image of the others, since that is what the general public sees.

It's not up to the rest of the world to clean up this image.

If "car enthusiasts" want to practise their hobby, perhaps they should follow the lead of stock-car racing enthusiasts and redirect some of the money they spent on their vehicles and fund — or convince the private sector to fund — a proper racing facility.

Of course, users would have to pay and follow rules. Since much of the street-racing culture is defined by its "extreme" and counter-culture attraction, I don't think many would use it.

Len Aitchison, Wyebridge

The article by leading columnist and Professional Driver, Ian Law, in response to the original letter from January 1st, 2005 (Printed in The Toronto Star, Wheels Section, January 8th, 2005)

Racing on the street is a real no-brainer
Letter to Wheels makes columnist's blood boil

Ian Law - Better Driving

I have spent the past two decades trying to convince auto enthusiasts not to pursue their love of competition on our streets but to take it to a venue where it can be done safely.

Many automotive journalists and racers have also fought this battle to keep our sport from becoming a public scourge and a danger to innocent bystanders.

Now, a Wheels reader's letter published last week has sent my oil pressure soaring.

Our anonymous reader supports "street racing" under certain circumstances. Ironically, he/she wishes to remain nameless because the reader is also a police officer.

The caution is understandable, as this is a rather compromising situation.

The reader does form some good points, but there are also very erroneous and dangerous assumptions.

As stated in the letter, it is true that anyone with a modified car is not necessarily a street racer. Some owners of modified cars just love driving a unique vehicle and the extra attention it garners. Others like to show off their craftsmanship and imagination. Certainly, not all of them race their creations.

However, modifying a vehicle from the factory specifications can make it more difficult and dangerous to drive. Having raced cars with modified suspensions at racetracks, I know this for a fact.

These modifications, which can increase performance, also reduce the vehicle's "window of recovery," making it more formidable to drive at its limits.

Most drivers, including these street racers, are not trained well enough to remain in control of a regular car, never mind a modified one.

Many modifications, especially those oriented toward style, can actually reduce a vehicle's performance and safety.

For example, some larger wheels and tires can noticeably reduce braking performance due to increased mass.

Racing down a "main road with lots of traffic during the day" does make one an idiot, as stated by our reader. That is the proverbial no-brainer. However, I do take exception to the next statement that "two guys racing down a deserted industrial road at 2 a.m." would hurt no one but themselves. This is a very short-sighted statement.

When anyone gets hurt during these street races, it greatly affects all of us. The public has to pay for the participants' medical bills, years of rehabilitation and the cleanup. This can cost thousand of dollars or even millions if someone is killed or paralyzed.

When these racers crash, all of our insurance rates go up to pay for the carnage.

This is one reason why "young male" drivers all have inflated insurance rates, including the innocent ones that do not race.

It would be a safe bet to say our reader has complained about insurance rates at some point.

On top of this, racers at the tracks are getting a bad name as we get lumped in with all performance drivers. We spend a lot of energy and time trying to make racing safe and reputable only to have our sport tarnished by the street-racer image.

The reader's use of the phrase "racing down a deserted industrial road" is also disconcerting. Just what is this "racer's" definition of a "deserted industrial road"? Is it the same as other street racers?

This terminology is too vague. When does "deserted" and "industrial" begin and stop? Where do you draw the line? Who will stop two street racers from having an impromptu race down a road they think is deserted just before a taxi makes a left onto the "track"? Who sets the ground rules?

But the one particular statement this reader makes that I really take offence to is, and I quote, "A statement often heard is `take it to the track'. This is usually uttered by people who speak before they think and who have no knowledge or understanding of the facts."

I am one of those "people" who have been urging racers to take it to the tracks.

I have been driving for 34 years (probably longer than our reader has been walking) and racing for two decades in auto slalom, ice racing and track. I have driven almost every car that has been made and many more modified cars. In short, "Been there, done that."

This particular topic has had me searching for a solution for many, many years.

I can assure you, dear reader, I did not speak out before I thought and I do understand the facts!

The only way to make street racing safe is to take it off the streets. When racers use our streets, they are in an environment that they have very little control over.

While blasting up the road, do you really know what your car will hit if you snap a CV joint or blow a motor? Will it hit a curb and flip or wrap itself around a lamp post? Will that empty road stay deserted or will a truck come around the corner?

It is not a case of "if" it will happen, but "when."

At a racetrack, whether it is for drag racing, solo, oval or road racing, these unknowns are either eliminated or greatly reduced. Safety is paramount and years of experience, technology and planning have gone into making the sport as safe as possible. Rules are formulated to reduce danger and increase competitiveness.

There are no excuses for racing on the street. If you need to prove your car's superiority, then sign up for a Solo (auto slalom) event. These competitions run each weekend in the GTA from spring to late fall.

If you are met by a challenge, invite your opponent out to a parking lot (Solo 2) or a racetrack (Solo I) and determine not only who has the faster car, but also who is the better driver. For icing on the cake, they even have competition schools that will help you with the sport and greatly improve your driving skills.

There will always be the need for enthusiasts to compete. It is part of our human psychological makeup. That part we cannot change. However, we can do a couple of things to help all of us.

One, we can educate these enthusiasts that there are safer ways of competing than racing on our streets.

We can help them understand that they are not invincible, immortal or infallible and it is possible they can take an innocent life with their passion. They need to understand that we are not talking about a video game.

If you crash you cannot simply press the start button and try again. Human damage can be permanent.

Two, we need a drag racing venue for these enthusiasts to use that is nearby and accessible at all hours to replace their "industrial" drag strip.

Our street racer and I both agree on this point: There are no drag race facilities within a half-hour of the GTA. The closest one is two hours away.

If one is not provided, these racers will continue to use our streets. The famous line from Field of Dreams could not be more true: "Build it and they will come." If we want it off the streets, then we need to provide a facility other than our streets.

Car racing is inevitable. Racing cars on our streets need not be.

Street racers need to know that they can decide their superiority without using our streets. But they need to be mature enough to do it at the right place and at the right time. - Ian Law's E-mail
Ian Law Racing - Ian Law's Professional Driving School Website
Additional articles by Ian Law - Additional Articles by Ian Law

For Reference, here are the links to the original articles on the Toronto Star's website:

Original Letter
Other Readers Responses
Ian Law's Article

The article says it all. I am in agreeance with Ian Law's article 100%. "Take it to the Track!!"

Feel free to post your comments and reactions to the above letters/article.

Author:  Sam Baker [ January 12 2005, 3:27 AM ]
Post subject: 

I'm surprized no one talks about mountain racing (aka "touge") that much, like Initial D stuff. :? Since there hasn't really been a movie from Hollywood about it, not many people have caught onto the trend, allthough "drifting" has become popular now among ricers. Frankly I hope it never becomes as widely-advertized as illegal street racing has (i.e. every car shop sells NOS decals). I agree with the first letter that someone with a modified car should not be pulled over and had his/her hood lifted simply because it "looks illegal." Car enthusiats have their own rights to customize their vehicles to a certain extent in order to make them unique! It would be boring to see 50,000 of the same honda civics and not a single one without a huge obscene wing. :lol: honestly we need something to laugh at or stare at in awe once and a while. It's a form of expression! But i do agree with the authors of the other letters that street racing (drag racing on the highway or city streets) is stupid. Who wants to endanger themselves and others when there is practically no skill involved? Anyone can drive in a straight line. Proving that your car is faster only means that you spent more $money$ on it. Proving that YOU are faster requires skill.. and that can only be found on the track and in the twisties. Not the drag strip, but a racing circuit-style track or a windy mountain pass in which you may actually become a better driver in the process. It would seem like it'd be more dangerous, but kids need to learn that if they can't control their car, they shouldn't be racing at high speeds in traffic. Just a thought.. sorry for rambling! :mrgreen: got too much free time and thought I would vent. Touge isn't the safest alternative, and it's still illegal street racing.. but I've found it to be way more fun, way more educational, and last way longer than just racing for a quarter mile. thnx for ur time lol
~ sam

Author:  mazdubber [ January 13 2005, 8:02 PM ]
Post subject: 

My only problem with the take it to the track approach is that it's basically a sting operation for police. I can't count how many times this year I've been through, or heard about police road blocks strategically placed at all roads exiting different tracks after high profile 'take it to the track' events. The worst part is that the police are NOT properly educated on what to look for. If you've ever waited through one of these 3 hour cash grabs you'd know what I mean. I'm all about taking it to the track. I do not race on the streets. However, I also don't appreciate the punishment being laid out to people that are attempting to be responsible. It's enough to make many people keep it away from the track.

Author:  fry_81 [ January 13 2005, 8:17 PM ]
Post subject: 

ya i hear alot about them just waiting at the exits of these events, its really dissapointing for them to do this. they incourage it to be taken to the track but once you get there, your in the middle of a sting operation.

Author: [ January 13 2005, 8:26 PM ]
Post subject: 

To be honest, I've never been caught in one of these "sting operations".

However, my thoughts on the matter are, if you have nothing to hide on your vehicle, your vehicle is completely legal, and to the proper standards to be driven on the road, why let it bother you?

Basically, they are out to get the bad guy. The ones whose vehicles are not safe to be on the road. (ie. Badly warn tires, inproper lighting, NOS tanks not properly installed, etc.

My analogy to this is the RIDE stops that happen every holiday season.

Do you get pissed off when you are stopped in a RIDE spot check??

(For you out of towners, RIDE, is a spot check to check for drunk or impaired drivers, usuallly over the Christmas holiday season.)

Author:  Sam Baker [ January 15 2005, 3:12 PM ]
Post subject: 

yea i agree that if you arent doing anything wrong, you shouldnt be pulled over. right? well.. even if you're just cruising on your way home, if you car looks hot, they might suspect you're up to something. my mom used to have a porsche, and she got pulled over one day just because the cop wanted to look at it. :roll: that's just lame. but with that in mind, i welcome cops to pull me over just to look at the car! :P they probably dont know what it is or what it's got in it, so might as well let them gawk lol

Author:  Franko [ February 02 2005, 10:07 AM ]
Post subject: 

We dont have a street racing scene here.. People just have no intrest in it. Now there is the occasional impromptu race off of a red light I would say but you dont see it too often. There used to be quite the scene here with tuners. I rember we used to have these "lot nights" at empty parking lots.. it was more like a car show really.. people get out and walk around looking at the cars. Then after we would go on a cruise somewhere, there was usually like 30 or so cars just crusin through the hillsides.

The problem here is that we have 1 dragstrip in newfoundland. Its an old runway that they close every sunday during summertime specifically for drag racing. The problem is that it is a 3 hour drive away. I would really love to have a circut track to go to.. a real offical one.. man Id just love to be pullin through corners and accelerating down the straights on a real track. Mark my words, if I win the lottery I am building a circut track here.. everyone is all about acceleration in a straight line but whats the good of that if your car cant take a corner? If I built a track Id have to name is something silly like 'mario raceway' or something j/k. :)

Author:  Vaine0 [ June 10 2005, 6:26 PM ]
Post subject: 

Unfortunatley the police officer (if he even was an officer) was correct, although I feel he inadequetly argued his points.

He is right that another solution has to be found, to making street racing legal under "safe" cirumstances. I believe most of you can agree that more often then not, street racing is a spur of the moment situation -- you'll be sitting at a light at 2am, and a civic with a disgusting spoiler and a body kit thats about to fall off is reving his 88 horses at you. All you want to do is eat him with your KL-ZE. Whats understandable, whats reasonable, is to find the safest possible place to race (most people know where these places are in their own city.) and take whatever percautions you can to ensure the saftey of OTHERS first, and then lastly consider your own safety. Granted, I do not consider ANY road with cross streets containting possible traffic, a safe road. I'm from Montana, and this is what I consider SAFE (as possible) street racing:

Basically, "take it to the track" does not work for testosterone driven teenagers who live in the moment. When you take it to the track, you spend money, and you more then likely spend an entire day there -- and for most people (as myself) the track is over an hour away from where you live. Going to the drag strip is more of a special occasion type thing.

There was the point brought up, 'It is not a case of "if" it will happen, but "when."' Well, I'm sorry to say it but that goes for anything in life -- it's a mute point. I personally enjoy rock climbing. The same argument could be brought up, it's not a matter of "if" my harness snaps while I'm up on on the rock, but "when". It's not a matter of "if" you get struck by lightning, it's "when". It boils down to how you look at life, and how you live. I would argue that anyone should do anything they want with their life so long they understand the risks innate with the activity, and so long as the risk is 99% your own or a fellow participant of the same understanding. Personally, I feel that with a rollcage, a two mile stretch of highway, and farmland surrounding you on bothsides should not be considered outright as "irresponsible."

Lastly I would bring up a point that a lot of people seem to overlook.
Kinetic Energy = Mass * Velocity ^ 2

An MX-3 GS with driver traveling at 100 mph:
2750 * 100^2 = 27,500,000 joules of energy. (well units, dont want to convert lbs and miles, this works simply as a comparision)

An SUV weighing 5,000 lbs traveling at a resonable higway speed of 75 mph:
5000 * 75 ^2 = 28,125,000 units of energy.

What does that mean? It means that your average SUV traveling at 75 mph on the highway is more dangerous then an MX-3 traveling at 100 mph. I wonder which is more likely to lose control too? Thats probably the SUV at 75 mph. Which is more likely to flip over? Thats probably the SUV, also.

Momentum (or resistance to a change in motion) is Mass * Velocity
MX-3: 2750 * 125 = 343,750
SUV: 5000 * 75 = 375,000

What is the main point of my argument? Keep it on safe roads, reasonable on highways, OR tell soccer-mom neighbor to take it to the track because she is just as dangerous to public safety as we are at 100 mph.

Author:  jschrauwen [ September 25 2005, 2:19 AM ]
Post subject: 

Vaine0, I like your perspective and take on the subject. It appears very mature, realistic and true to the point. I don't recall seeing this thread before and I am not sure if Jeff has resurrected it for perhaps my benifit so as to quell my request on similar subject matter. In any case, his position is firm and he's resolve in his view on street racing, irregardless of the opinions, desires, wishes and requests of the membership. I do however find it excellent information for the younger/newer members who are of the "spur of the moment" genre.

Author:  GQ084 [ October 10 2005, 11:45 AM ]
Post subject: 

I guessed no one noticed...I looked at the picture, they always link everything to street racing..."3 cars weaving in and out of traffic and the other vehicle carrying 5 passengers"...They werent street racing, they were speeding wrecklessly. No racer wants an additional 640lbs of weight!! (hypothetically speaking each guy weighs 160lbs).
I dont condone street racing but I also dont look down upon it. Everyone loves convenience, and when a "street event" takes place, its usually local or less than 45minutes of driving. Last few "events" ive been to consisted of parking lot full of cars, and everyone gauking at it and then some would encourage a race and they hit the streets. The only cars I seen on the street during the race was driver 1 and driver 2. Last thing a "street racer" wants to do is attract attention ( attention from the local authorities that is).

Author:  fabmxer [ July 04 2006, 1:15 PM ]
Post subject: 

I read most of the posts and the main article, you guys got good points :).

But just because I got a spoiler on the back and my ride is totally custom does not make me a street racer, what about cars that are sponsored and bult totally custom just for shows, are they street racers?

Author:  Custommx3 [ July 05 2006, 10:33 AM ]
Post subject: 

Not unless they street race...

Author:  Dragon1212 [ March 21 2011, 12:34 AM ]
Post subject:  Re:

Custommx3 wrote:
Not unless they street race...

Lol touche...

I agree that human bodys and minds are in my opinion, the failure of evolution, We are given a gift of a intelligence ability but the fact is most of us are just a stupid as any animal, which news flash to everybody we are animals,

Animals live in the spur of the moment, and rarely stop to think about others. Where I live theres a light followed by a 60 Kph sign then a 80 Kph sign and finally a 110 Kph sign, Then a massive hill in which most already are speeding to make it up the hill without their fuel economy going out the window, its the last light in town and its not uncommon to see two cars bolt for the 110 sign, but after that sign they slow down, the race is over, it is the only place in town i can see as a slightly intelligent place to race, because the speed limit goes to 110 and its the last light and a clear sight to it, if they do it there i don't mind because its clear but anywhere else... guys your not race car drivers, and even for the ones who are, try to minimalise the death caused by the failures of evolution know as humans.

Author:  Ryan [ March 21 2011, 7:58 AM ]
Post subject:  Re: An Excellent Article on Street Racing

Humans are in no way failures in evolution... the human body is capable of rediculous things... we just choose not to.

Minds as well.

We're just lazy. Thats the failure, and its all ours.

Author:  Daninski [ March 21 2011, 2:09 PM ]
Post subject:  Re: An Excellent Article on Street Racing

Just because it's been mentioned there's only one thing and one thing alone that sets us apart from other mammals or any other life form for that matter. The ability to reason. A reasoning mind once educated is more likely to make intelligent informed decisions. I say start in school, talk about the consequences of street racing, the pain and sorrow it can cause and then, talk about the alternatives.

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