Street Racing vs. Race Track | Performance Racing Industry
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Street Racing vs. Race Track
By Nelson Hoyos on April 14, 2015

Let me start by clarifying that “drag racing” is a sport, not a term that should be used in the mainstream media to identify a high-speed accident on the street. The term “speeding” is usually not used either—rather, they claim that multiple people were “drag racing,” and the cars got out of control and caused the accident.
 
Racing, or high-speed driving, is a fact of life, as many of today’s automakers tout horsepower, 0-60 MPH acceleration and overall performance as reasons to buy a particular vehicle.
 
Decades ago, National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) founder Wally Parks had a vision to provide a safe environment for hot rodders to race their cars without the common risks of racing on the streets. He also created what is known today as the Safety Safari, which places trained safety personnel at race tracks around the country in the event of an accident. As the sport of drag racing grew over the years, more race tracks became available to satisfy adrenaline junkies’ “need for speed” in a safe environment.
 
Many race tracks around the country today are trying to figure out how to attract young adults—the “street racers”—to their facility, giving them a place to race without the risk of street racing.
 
Here at Thunder Road Raceway in Gilliam, Louisiana, we are creating several different opportunities to entice the street racers to “Keep it off the Streets and Take it to the Track.” On select Fridays we have a Street Fest, which is a gathering for young adults that includes a Car Show, DJ Music and “Instant Green Drag Racing,” where the traditional countdown starting line (Sportsman Tree) lights are not used—instead, the cars are paired and an instant green light comes on (like traffic lights at an intersection), and scoreboards are turned off so elapsed time is not shown on the run, just a win light.
 
We are also working with local police in an effort to reduce street racing or high-speed driving in the streets of Northern Louisiana. Under the agreement, officers will give first-time speeders a break if they come to our Friday Night race sessions and listen to the statistics of accidents in our area due to street racing or high-speed driving; then, they are given the opportunity to race on the track in a controlled environment, with EMTs and fire safety equipment on hand. 
 
The program’s objective is to introduce “street racers” to a safe alternative to fulfill their need for speed in a safe place while reducing the risk of accidents or fatalities due to racing on the streets. 
 
Education is needed to communicate to this ever-growing population of new racers, and if more race tracks reach out to community leaders and local law enforcement, together they could curb the problems related to illegal street racing and help save lives in their communities. 
 
Race track owners and managers have an obligation to help their community grow, providing a safe and exciting environment for all who enjoy racing fast cars.
 
Till next time.

Nelson Hoyos is the co-owner/operator of NHRA-sanctioned Thunder Road Raceway Park in Gilliam, Louisiana, and co-founder/lead instructor/motorsports director at Driven2Win Drag Racing School. He also is a two-time NHRA National Champion driver, and a record-setting (243.217 MPH) land speed driver of the GM Performance Division’s 4-Cylinder Turbocharged Cobalt at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Previously, Hoyos was the driver for the Team Steam USA LSR Streamliner, and for many years served as technical director at Ferrea Racing Components.

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Nelson Hoyos is the co-owner/operator of NHRA-sanctioned Thunder Road Raceway Park in Gilliam, Louisiana, and co-founder/lead instructor/motorsports director at Driven2Win Drag Racing School.
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