yellow car waiting at a stoplight

Secret Sports: The Real-life Fast and Furious Racers of America

Traffic enforcers always carry a police radar gun for a reason. They calculate speed limits to reduce the probability of crashes as much as possible, or at least lessen their severity. The road is a shared space, and each citizen is obligated to keep it a safe place for themselves and others.

Yet for some people, the road calls them into a world of adrenaline and fueled frenzy. It’s not a safe world; nor is it legal. And for the most part, they’ve kept themselves hidden.

At twilight, car lights break the darkness of the streets. Two men behind the wheel stare each other down, as a howling crowd watches at the curbside. This sounds like a blockbuster movie, but it’s also real life for America’s subculture of street racers who meet in the dark.

Yes, Street Racing Is Still a Thing

Just on February 19, 2021, the Reno Police busted an illegal street racing that led to two arrests and 47 traffic violations. Like these arrested men, underground street racers keep their meets discreet and away from the eyes of the law enforcers.

Many racers love the thrill but do not want the risk. These racers opt for country roads and parks. But even then, things could still go wrong, such as when a car hood mishap caused a rally car to screech through the dirt road.

In New York, a close-knit group of car enthusiasts and ;

Earlier Forms of Street Racing

Since we discovered that horses could be trained to carry humans, street racing has been a thing. Equestrianism or horse riding was an archaic way to race on the streets. For centuries, it was considered a street hazard, but it was eventually legitimized and contained in a special complex.

The Risks of Street Racing

For some car racers, their craving for a ride sends them racing even on a busy Monday morning. In an interview with VICE, a racer named Reaf shared how he and his comrades would take it to the highway streets and tailgate each other on his way to work. Reaf confessed, “I don’t really like driving anymore unless I’m racing.”

While this may be a mere hobby for fellows like Reaf, they are subjecting themselves—as well as other drivers and unknowing pedestrians who’d simply like to cross the street—to an impending danger.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports approximately 37,000 fatal vehicle crashes in America. Speeding accounts for a third of this number. A study analyzed NHTSA’s data from 1998 to 2001 and found that from 149,568 crashes, 315 involved street racing. There were 399 deaths related to these races.

two cars racing

Motorsport: A Legal Way to Race

We are in no way condoning street racing, but we can understand the appeal. For those looking to share the hype but want to keep it clean, street racing has been regulated into an official sport.

The term “motorsport” encompasses all competitive sporting events, which can either involve racing or non-racing competitions.

If you’re not looking to race, you can try drifting or watching a demolition derby. Drifting involves the driving technique of losing traction through deliberate oversteering while maintaining control of the car. Demolition Derby is a motor event that you’ve probably seen at a fair or carnival. A show typically features five drivers ramming their vehicles into one another. A demolition derby is a regulated showcase and is kept safe by rules, safety gear, and trained precaution.

Road racing may be the closest thing street racers could get within the bounds of the law. Some of them who take their game into a sanctioned road track still consider themselves street racers.

Road racing can be held either on a race circuit or a street temporarily closed for the event. The former remains to be the preferred model due to safety concerns.

Road racing as a sport started in Europe after the Second World War. Vehicles were becoming more common, which led to an organized race series, Formula One. Motorcycles also found their place at the Grand Prix series, which we now know as MotoGP.

Big annual competitions need to be regulated by a special board to oversee safety. For example, MotoGP is sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, with headquarters in Switzerland.

Keeping Safe

The world of street racing is only glamorous on the big screen. In real life, car meets and races during the night have resulted in thousands of deaths. For a road thrill, motorsport shows can be an electrifying experience, and you don’t even have to be behind the wheel to join in the fun.

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