Local News

Chris Petersen Trial Raises Awareness On Racing Dangers

Posted July 1, 2004

— Authorities said a drag race that led to a wreck on Interstate 540 three years ago is far from an isolated incident. It is a persistent problem that is endangering people.

Chris Petersen

pleaded guilty

Wednesday to four counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle and one count of excessive speed in connection with an accident on Interstate 540 on May 30, 2001, that killed four teens. Prosecutors said Petersen was racing with the teens at the time of the accident.

Hung Phan, who owns Phantasm Motor Sports in Raleigh, said part of his business is modifying cars to make them faster. He said most clients are responsible.

"We sponsor races throughout the area on a racetrack, closed environment where they can race their cars and have fun," he said.

Phan said he knows some of them take it beyond the track.

"I do see guys that go out and play around on the streets and stuff," he said.

According to Raleigh police, officers issued 123 racing citations between January 2001 and early June 2004. In the smaller city of Winston-Salem, police issued 47 racing tickets during that time. In Cary, there were 32 citations.

Raleigh has one major problem area. Many business owners claim many weekend drag racers congregate in their parking lots along Capital Boulevard. After the business owners call Raleigh police to run them off, they claim racers head to the street.

Raleigh City councilwoman Jessie Taliaferro said the new budget will help.

"There are actually 23 new staff positions to address exactly these kinds of issues," she said.

Phan said Raleigh should provide a place to race.

"I would like to see Raleigh have a racetrack of some type," he said. "I think that's a great suggestion. We can certainly bring it forward to the Parks Department."

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