More Stories

Street Scenez

Finish Line:
Street Racing:
Itís Illegal, Itís Dangerous, so Why Does It Happen?
Author: Julio Alvarez

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 
been thrown.
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 
to take. 
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