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Troopers Seek Help To Put Drag On Racing Along Rural Roads

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ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — Drag racing on rural roads is becoming a more frequent problem in central North Carolina, authorities said.

Four Halifax County men were arrested this weekend after state Highway Patrol troopers broke up a drag race on N.C. Highway 561 at the Halifax-Nash county line. Authorities also seized a Ford Mustang GT and a souped-up Honda Civic.

The arrests mark the second crackdown on pre-arranged racing by the Highway Patrol in Nash and Halifax counties since the beginning of 2005. Criminal charges are misdemeanors that can result in fines and the forfeiture of the vehicles used in the race.

Troopers said they are concerned about the mix of speeding cars and suspected drug and alcohol use by drivers.

"You have people that are impaired but are driving in the races. They are leaving these races. They are standing out in the road. There's even reports that people are stopping motorists going up and down the road," said 1st Sgt. Keith Stone, of the Highway Patrol.

Drag races are held late at night, and the low visibility creates a dangerous situation for motorists, Stone said.

"(We fear) a car coming down the highway at 55 mph and not only running over these folks (in the road) but meeting two high-performance cars running well over 100 mph," he said.

The Highway Patrol often gets help in breaking up drag races from irritated motorists calling to complain about getting stopped on a state road by those involved in a race, he said.