Pro & Cons of Street Racing

by Kyrana Jones

Strong opinions on the topic of street racing have probably been around since the first two drivers raced their horseless carriages down a city street. There are, however, more valid arguments against the practice than there are in favor of it. Regardless, this dangerous pastime continues to flourish and provide its participants and followers with the thrill of watching fast machines compete. The hot rods of the 1950s have given way to faster cars, now fully loaded and equipped with performance enhancers such as nitrous oxide systems and high horsepower engines, the equivalent of steroids for cars.

The Pros

The world of street racing provides an outlet for teenagers, primarily, by giving them a group of like-minded individuals to spend time with and enjoy the same passion. A wealthy teen can sweeten his or her ride to impress onlookers and become an icon to the crowds that always spring up around these events. The admiration of your peers, the reputation as a winner and the money that can be won through the wagering that takes place are three strong drawing cards that can lure people into this culture. The excitement of doing something that society has deemed as taboo attracts those who like to fly under the radar in a self-governed environment of their own making. The prestige and notoriety are alluring to some, as well, who may not realize self-worth in any other quarter.

The Cons

Street racing is a dangerous pastime that law-enforcement agencies across the country consider illegal. Therefore, breaking the law and endangering yourself as well as onlookers and innocent people in the area are on top of the list. Drivers that have never experienced high speeds are suddenly behind the wheel of a rocket about to go out of control with no clue how to react or what to do. Trespassing on private property and destroying locks to open gates in order to gain entry into areas conducive to racing are a problem as well. Carjacking and auto theft of specific preferred cars, such as the Honda Accord or Acuras, make this an even more dangerous activity. Damage to both property and cars increase insurance rates and indirectly affect those in the community who have nothing to do with these events. Fatalities and injuries to drivers and spectators involved in these races are documented facts.

Video Games and Videos

There are a number of street racing video games that have become popular with street racers. They become enamored with the game and try to emulate this behavior in the real world. The major differences between the two is that life does not have a "play again" feature, instant damage repair or multiple lives to use up. Speed can become an addiction both online and on DVD. Hollywood has portrayed street racing for years as an illegal yet accepted practice that comes complete with tough guys, pretty girls and fast cars. "The Fast and the Furious" is the latest in a long line of street racing films that date back to "Rebel Without a Cause." The "Cannonball Run" and "Gumball Rally" movies continued to glamorize the activity. The excitement that surrounds one of these events can make teens who are trying to fit in somewhere reach for that fast, high-roller type of lifestyle.

The Mechanics

Another group aside from teens that frequently go to these events as racers are males between the ages of 25 and 40, who love to work on cars and have become adrenaline junkies craving velocity. These mechanics spend their spare time and money to make their cars fancier and faster so the crowd will buzz about them as they roll by. Perhaps they are teens that never grew up or are trying to reclaim some past glory; either way, they are endangering those around them, and their need for speed needs to be curbed.


The National Hot Rod Association is encouraging young street racers to take the race to one of the 140 member tracks throughout the country that feature events designed to make the racing of these high performance vehicles a safer, sanctioned event. They are planning a video to be released on featuring drivers Robert Hight, Del Worsham, Doug Herbert, Hillary Wil and Brandon Bernstein, all of whom urge young drivers to take it off the street and onto the track.


Ontario, California, was considered to be a hot bed for street racing. Between 500 and 1,000 cars would show up on a given night, not all as racers but part of the subculture that enjoys watching street racing. Shots fired in the air from some of the more unsavory element exemplifies the dangers associated with the gathering itself. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that racing factored into 135 fatalities in 2001. In 2002, San Diego, California, reported 16 deaths and 31 injuries of a serious nature that were all directly attributed to street racing. In 2001, Florida issued more than 7,000 citations for highway racing. National statistics show that 49 out of every 1,000 people involved in street racing are injured.

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