Social media is making street racers easier to find, but not to catch.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Generations of drag racers have grown up in Kansas City.
When the city decided to turn the area’s only dragstrip into a park in 2011, it appeared to put the brakes on races.
The city purchased Kansas City International Raceway land after complaints from locals about engine noise. But at least the police knew where those racers were and didn’t have to worry about locals being caught up in the middle of it.
“It’s just unreal how that car damaged the F-150 the way it did,” Simone Green said. “We had to cut my father out of the car.”
Her 56-year old father Perry was killed two weeks ago when police say racing drivers crossed the center line and hit him head on.
There was no start or finish line in that crash, but it shows how dangerous cars at high speeds on city streets can be.
In KCK’s Turner neighborhood, Miguel Flores tosses and turns because of the noise he and his family hear every night at the weekend.
“Engine noise is what it is, and I know they are racing,” he said.
“They are racing right on this road here,” Thong Theo pointed outside.
That road is actually a 30 mph two-lane road in front of the Richland Business Center. It’s scarred with tire marks. The parking lots are full of donuts and not the kind you can eat.
It’s just one of the areas where large crowds gather to watch street racing in the metro. Others include what racers call “Mexico” near the airport and “Manchester” near the stadiums.
Back in 2011, KCIR’s manager predicted a big uptick in street racing when his track was forced to shut up shop.
“If the racetrack is not there, they are going to do it out on the public streets,” stated former General Manager Todd Bridges.
But no one could have predicted how public the racers would be in promoting their illegal street races.
Event promoters showcase the growing popularity of street racing here in Kansas City and all over the country.
“It’s pretty packed out here,” one participant said in a video of a Kansas City race
On race night it’s not long before the action kicks off, car after car showed up and started racing the wrong way down the 30 mph road. They drifted and did donuts at the same intersection where we saw several trucks trying to get to warehouses.
As soon as anyone gets wind of the cops. They are off.
“All right, we are all scattering. The cops came,” one racer said in a video.
“Once we locate an area, the racers tend to flee at a high rate of speed,” Kansas City Police Captain Tim Gaughan said.
The police said they’ll continue to do the best they can with manpower constraints to enforce laws that help them go after organizers, racers and even spectators.
“We don’t let you race up and down a street,” Gaughan said. “It’s dangerous for you; it’s dangerous for everybody else. You just can’t have that in a civilized society.”
Police monitor social media, but often that leads to them only finding out about races after they are underway.
All those involved know the risks and have removed themselves from the rest of the public the best they can. By taking away the track, the city has created this problem.