There are several TV shows, video games, and movies dedicated to street racing. From Grease to The Fast and the Furious, the media makes it out to be an exciting and sexy test of skill and mechanical know-how.
When a tuned car zooms past a racer on a desolate summer night, excitement makes the heart pound. This feeling often instigates a thought… Let’s race! Put into action, this thought leads to many things; an accident, a ticket, or… a win.
From The Paris-Madrid race in 1903, to the start of Formula one in 1946, racing’s subculture has thrived for generations. On the track or on the street some people just cannot get enough of the need for speed, adrenaline rush and competetion.
Canyon running is not a new form of racing but racers are becoming more involved and interested in the structure and skills it takes to be successful.
Those who are not familiar with cars may think that canyon running refers to a casual jog with friends on a mountain trail but to a thrill seeking racer i’ts a whole different story.
The runners receive cool bursts of canyon air, either in the passenger or backseat as the driver speeds as fast as possible through a course of hair-pin turns, chicanes, and elevation changes.
“I don’t really oppose it,” said Jeremy Artates, 19, architecture. “I just wish people would be more safe about it.”
He’s known of deaths and has been present at accident scenes.
“These days people think they can drive,” said Arates “But they over estimate their capabilities on how they can manage their car.” He said that there should be a place, somewhere in the desert, that could have a canyon-simulated track. He proposed that there would be a 10 mile stretch with all the up’s and down’s, left and right turns as there are in a canyon, but instead of a cliff, pile of huge rocks, or innocent bystanders, there would be 300 yards of dirt on either side.
“This way a [car] tuner could forgo the chance of getting a ticket or getting killed”, Artates said, “while also not endangering innocent bystanders”
In October 2006, a 16-year-old San Bernardino high school student plowed into the wheelchair of a 38-year-old woman, killing the mother of two.
Steve Lutz, 19, business, used to race but has had a change of heart.
“I used to be all for it, and go fast,” Lutz said, “but now I hate it, I don’t even drive fast anymore.”
Like Artates he said canyon racing is killing too many and racers need to be more cautious.
Drivers who are pulled over for racing face penalties including: fines up to $1,000, license suspension/revocation, vehicleimpoundment, and up to six-months of jail time.
Imprisonment may seem excessive, but illegal street racing in California has recently been upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony offense because of the extent of the dangers.
If a racer is convicted of criminal negligence and responsible for a death during a race, he can be sentenced to life in prison.
But instead of police doing things like crushing the person’s car, giving them a ticket, or informing them on what could happen, why not be productive and put something like Artates’ idea into action. Money is neccesary to complete the project, but with organizations such as Race Legal and Sharp HealthCare’s: Sharp on Survival, many profitable donations could be accumulated.
Speed is not a simple problem, since all people are wired differently. Some want a challenge, change, and competitive lifestyle.
“There has been research to show that additional adrenaline is addictive in the body,” said, psychologist Lysa Stewart of RHR International, a company specializing in business performace. “Some of it could possibly be due to the wanting of power and control while testing the limits and the amount of arousal received during these actions.”
Henry Tran, 18, undecided, claims he is addicted to illegal racing.
“It’s all around fun,” Tran said, he would rather canyon run than drag race on the street. “Its not about speed, rather, it’s about technique.”
Race Legal, an organization trying to keep the San Diego street-racing youth off the streets, hosts racing every other Friday night at Qualcomm Stadium for anyone who wants to test ride the stadium track.