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Street Car Chaos

The Real World Of Street Racing

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“Wanna run?”

“How much?”

“50 bucks.”

“Gimme two and the move.”

“Gimme a break. It’s only a small-block.”

“Yeah, but you’re on the bottle.”

We can’t let ourselves believe that street racing is politically correct (because our lawyers would have a fit), but we understand the appeal. While the media has portrayed street racing as a recent phenomena of adrenaline-crazed youth, we know better. Modern street racing isn’t just about kids running around with baggy pants and a false sense of what’s “fast and furious.” Hard-core street racing has been around since the first two cars hit the road, and the people who engage in it run the gamut from pimply faced kids to old men you’d never suspect.

So what is it about street racing that gives it such a cult following? Maybe it’s simply a shortage of tracks for local speed junkies to race on. Or maybe it’s all about rebellion. Then there are the really hard-core street racers who just want to be king of the street. These are the guys who trot out the truly brutal “street” machines that have no business being on any road. We’re talking about trailered tube-chassis Pro Mod-style cars and small-tired doorslammers running 9s with a rollbar (maybe). Mix in egos and a few Benjamins “to make it interesting,” and you have a recipe for late-night action under a bridge abutment in the middle of nowhere.

As exhilarating as it seems, street racers spend most nights worrying about police raids and arguing about details—who won, who cheated, who’s got the money. It’s a way of life for some, and we’re not here to judge. But the fact remains: As alluring as street racing is, it’s still illegal and dangerous. That’s why we’re excited about a new grassroots racing venue that takes street racers off the street without compromising their “outlaw” spirit.

While we were checking out the U.S. Class Nationals last July, 2000 NMRA Renegade Champion Bob Kurgan gave us a personal tour of the Chicago area’s Street Car Chaos. He drove us out to U.S. 41 Dragway in Peotone, Illinois, in the middle of a Saturday night. After a desolate drive from Chicago though endless miles of cornfields, we arrived to find a crowd of 2,000 spectators and close to 280 cars racing deep into the wee morning hours with the timing lights off and flashlight starts on.

If it sounds chaotic, that’s because it was. Thanks to the efforts of Denny Rich and Brian Peterson—who runs a similar event called Real Street Drags (www.greatlakesdragaway.com) on Chicago’s north side—Street Car Chaos (SCC) is successfully taking street racing from the street to the dragstrip.

The rules at these events are simple—there are none. About the only procedures you’ll see are flashlight starts by a flagman, chalk marks that’ll spot up to 25 car lengths, an unbiased finish line caller on the top end, and a whole lot of racing until four o’clock in the morning. Denny was proud to say that U.S. 41 Dragway will be hosting this outlaw-type racing once a month from April through October in 2002. For more information, call U.S. 41 at 219/285-2200 or you can e-mail Denny directly at streetcarchaos@aol.com.

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