Street Racing: Itís Illegal, Itís Dangerous, so Why Does It Happen?
Like other cities in California, Watsonville has a
very unique nightlife, full of roars and thunder. When
the sun goes down and the sky turns black, lightning
strikes in the streets. It all goes down
at what teens call ďthe runs.Ē Itís exciting, itís
dangerous, and itís getting big.
This is no roller-coaster attraction; it is the
controversial and popular street racing scene. It all
starts off with a cat-and-mouse chase and ends with
the rush of a sixty-mile-an-hour race that lasts only
a few seconds.
Itís a quiet Friday night and the dashboard clock just
turned to ten p.m. Suddenly, you hear a white Mazda
RX7 Twin Turbo pipe out. You look in your rearview
mirror, and the next thing you know, itís at your
side. Itís gone in a flash. Youíre thinking whether to
go after it and drop a challenge. So you pipe your
Nissan Skyline and tease him for a while.
For the next five lights, itís a game of cat and
mouse. You ease in front and hear his brakes. With a
roar, heís at your side, then cutting you off. The
game goes on. Glances are exchanged. The challenge has
The last light turns green. He accelerates and starts
bobbing and weaving the cars. So you think, ďOh,
shit.Ē You shift your gear into second, then third,
and go after him. The speedometer reads 45, and itís a
25 mile an hour zone.
Once you get to an empty street, you go for it. Itís
just a couple of seconds, but the RPMs are moving past
60. You grind your gear at third. Youíre dogged. Then
your cell rings. Itís Carlos. He says thereís runs in
the flats, and youíre ready for redemption. You find
Carlos at ďtheĒ corner. Thereís about nine different
cars behind you. They park and talk about what route
Now itís follow the leader to the spot. You all get
there and someone says, ďTurn off your lights.Ē
Everyone gets out of their cars. The pearl white Mazda
pulls up where youíre standing. He rolls down the
window and says, ďLetís do this.Ē You jump in your car
and pull up to his side while everyone gathers around.
You see the Asian flagger girl in a tank top with
daisy dukes holding up her bandana. You hear, ďReady,
set, go,Ē and her hand goes down. You skip a gear and
go to second, third, fourth Ė youíre neck to neck, you
go shift to fifth, and suddenly, you have your lead.
You slide in front, flick on your hazards and everyone
cheers. Coming back, youíre full of
relief. You won.
Drag racing goes on every weekend in the Central
Coast. Teens do it for the rush, the challenge and the
power. But what about the risks? Although Watsonville
Police Sergeant Brown told ShoutOut that there is no
drag racing in the city, a spokesman for the Monterey
County Police Department told us that racing is a
problem in Pajaro and other parts of North Monterey
County. But itís hard for police to stop it, ďWe can
try to catch kids in the act,Ē says Sgt. Brown. ďBut
that usually only happens if an officer gets lucky.Ē
or when someone gets hurt.
The kids say itís going to keep happening. But in some
towns, like Fremont, local officials are looking for
ways to legalize street racing in certain places and
at certain times, so that it can be
made safer. Monterey County is even considering
allowing legal racing for youth at the Laguna Seca
Race Track. Some racers in the Watsonville area think
the airport would be a great place to have legal drag