Popular street racing cars
Police suspect that many racers engage in illegal activities in order to finance their hobby; some agencies report that stolen vehicles have been stripped of parts that were later recovered from street racing vehicles.6
Whether by lawful or unlawful means, many racers feel they must devote huge sums of money to “soup up” their race cars; a major upgrade, with supercharger blowers, nitrous oxide systems, and other high-performance equipment can easily exceed $10, 000.7For many racers, getting the maximum performance out of their cars is very important to them and they will expend a tremendous amount of time, money, and effort toward that end.8
How dangerous is street racing? Data are difficult to obtain, because neither the federal government nor the insurance industry tracks related casualties, nor is software yet available for creating a database of street racing.9 However, measures are being taken in some jurisdictions to address this shortcoming and are discussed below. One unofficial estimate, derived from examining news reports and police data from 10 major cities and extrapolating on the basis of national population figures, is that at least 50 people die each year as a result of street racing.10 Although related deaths are difficult to quantify, media reports confirm that street racing takes its toll on innocent people as well as street racers, passengers, and onlookers.
At the root of the problem is the fact that youths have always had, according to one scholar, a “profound need for speed.”11 This love of speed is not restricted to the youth of the United States; indeed, the problem has reached serious levels in Canada, Australia, Germany, England, France, New Zealand, and Turkey.12 In Canada, where a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer was killed by a racer in 200213 and another 18 people died in the Toronto area in street racing incidents during a four-year period, 14 a new law was introduced in which street racing is an aggravating factor when sentencing persons convicted of dangerously or negligently operating a motor vehicle.15 In Vancouver, British Columbia, street racing can include an activity known as a “hat race, ” also known as a “kamikaze” or “cannonball run, ” in which drivers put money in a hat; the money is taken to an undisclosed location from which a call is made, informing the drivers where the cash awaits. The first driver to get there wins all the money. Pedestrians have been killed during such races.16
Race starters and observers are often positioned very close to the racing vehicles, putting themselves at considerable risk of injury. Credit SDStreetracing.com
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