The lure of drag racing can be irresistible for teenagers, but it’s an appeal that can also be deadly.
Across the country, about 30 people die each year in racing accidents. Just last week, a teenager in Fort Worth died in one. Stories like that one prompted the people at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth to see what they could do to help.
What they came up with was a six week Friday night racing program. Anyone can bring out their car, and for $20, they get a crack at a 1/8th mile track.
“We wanted to provide a safe environment for people, not just kids, but for people, to come race,” said Kenton Nelson, the Assistant General Manager at Texas Motor Speedway. He estimates about 125 drivers have turned out each Friday to race, in everything from mom’s station wagon to a Mustang pumped up with nitrous oxide.
The cars are organized into four divisions so that each car will race against its own type. Two cars compete against each other and the winner goes on to the next level. In addition, several hundred spectators come out to watch the races.
Edward Villanueva brought his Corvette out to race. “It's just a rush,” said Villanueva. “That adrenaline going through your body? It's fun.” Drivers like Villanueva don’t have to worry about getting busted by police, or worse, injuring themselves or others.
Chad Marcus, sporting a green Mohawk, admits he used to street race, but says now he says he gets his thrills in races like these. “Fastest I've ever been in an eighth mile is 6.1 (seconds) at 114 mile an hour,” said Marcus. “I'll drive it out there and drive it home.”
Fire crews are standing by the sides of the racetrack, just in case anything happens, but so far, there have been no problems.
This was the last event in the 2009 program, but organizers at the Texas Motor Speedway hope to bring it back again next summer. “I think it just gets back to- everyone has a little bit of hot rod in them,” said Nelson. “And that's the appeal.”