Local News

Drag Racing Dangerous, Illegal, Highway Patrol Says

Posted July 6, 2005

— The North Carolina Highway Patrol is putting the brakes on those with a need for speed.

On Sunday night, Nash County authorities arrested six people for drag racing and seized a Chevrolet Nova and a Chevrolet Vega as the cars began racing down Old Smithfield Road.

Authorities said the suspects are part of a gang that operates throughout Eastern North Carolina, and that the cars were ready for speed racing with racing slick tires, a roll bar in the doors and fuel that is not available at gas stations.

Troopers said the dragsters' favorite spots are straight rural roads away from heavily populated areas. Their concern is for spectators who line both sides of the highway. A motorist rounding the curve could produce deadly results, they said.

"It's a dangerous sport. You have a car here that runs in excess of 100 mph," said 1st Sgt. J.K. Stone of the Highway Patrol. "We have families traveling on our highways. If one gets through and meets this car head-on, there is definitely going to be a fatality."

The drag races are hard to stop because they take place in various locations and are announced by word of mouth hours before race time. Lookouts, who monitor police scanners and roadways, are posted near the makeshift quarter-mile race strips.

Police said Sunday's arrests were the direct results of help from residents who tipped off troopers about the race.

Residents are asked to report drag races by calling the North Carolina Highway Patrol at

(252) 446-8144

. All calls are confidential.

In May 2001, four teenagers died while drag racing on Interstate 540. Another driver, Christopher Petersen, pleaded guilty to four counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle. Under the deal, he was given a suspended sentence and three years probation.

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