Street Racing

Yeah yeah yeah, it’s illegal, I know. It puts people in danger, I get it, but it’s one of the ultimate thrills in the life of a car guy. These days, it’s tough to stay below the radar, and I mean that in the most literal sense possible. Law enforcement has really cracked down on street racing, and “exhibitions of speed” in general, making it frustrating for people like me, who didn’t get to experience the good ol’ days of street racing. My dad has told me plenty of stories of his street racing days, and he agrees that it’s too much of a risk to attempt it now.

Byrd Photo

Ok, so this isn't really street racing, but this picture certainly illustrates the dangers of "playing around" on the street. Anything could happen to make the car enter the opposite lane or run off the road, but it's a risk many of us car guys take on a regular basis.

It’s probably been 15 years or so since my dad street raced. I remember a guy coming by the shop that was bragging about a truck he’d just built, and told my dad he’d like to race the Corvette, since it was known as one of the fastest street cars in town. Of course, dad threw out the biggest bluff imaginable, assuming the truck really didn’t make all that much power. So, my dad decided to race him but not in the Corvette. He raced him in a rough, old ’55 Chevy pickup that he used primarily for hauling trash. The trash truck did have a decent 400 small block in it, but nothing crazy. Apparently it was strong enough to outrun the dude’s prized possession, so he didn’t really mention racing the Corvette again.

Byrd Photo

My dad's '55 Chevy pickup...I really miss this truck. He and his buddy Denny owned it for 18 years.

For me, street racing experience is limited, so I won’t pretend to be an expert about it–I was simply too young. I heard lots of stories about racing “at the bridge”, racing “in the cove” and racing “on the mountain”. The only one I can actually relate to is the mountain, as it was the site of my very first street race. And just so you know, I was a passenger with my dad doing the driving. I’m sure he could have been charged for child endangerment but that race really shaped my car guy lifestyle. In the Corvette, we raced a Vega wagon with a 406ci small block and nitrous…pretty stout car and I believe it was a solid seven second eighth-mile car. Anyway, the race happened and the Corvette barely outran the Vega, but I felt like the coolest kid in the world that night.

Byrd Photo

You can barely see me, but I'm in the passenger seat of the Corvette in this photo, taken in the mid-90s. It had been a couple years since I'd ridden in the car because of a few engine problems, so I was excited. We went to the cove and did a big burnout...it was great.

Since then, I’ve only raced on the street a few times, but it’s only been in basically stock cars. I raced my buddy Josh on a two-lane backroad a few years ago and it was unbelievably fun. I was in a 2001 Mustang with bolt ons and he was in a Fox Body Mustang with a 306 with aftermarket heads, cam and intake. I had a five-speed and Josh had a C4 with a stall converter. He obviously had the advantage, but street racing has a way of equalizing cars. We kicked them off from a 10mph roll–I jumped by a half a car length, and surprisingly stayed ahead by that amount until it came time to shift. With every shift, he gained about two feet on me, resulting in us being door to door as I hit fourth gear. It was an exciting race, considering the fact that we were driving fairly slow cars. At the track, my car ran 9.20’s and his car ran 8.20’s (eighth mile, of course), but on the street, it was a dead heat.

Street racing is definitely fun, but it’s easy to do it wrong. Josh ended up getting caught street racing a couple years ago, and that removed all of the fun from racing on the street. I guess the point of this blog is that I wish I’d been around for the earlier days of street racing, when there was less risk of getting caught, even though the level of danger was equally high. I doubt I’ll ever have the chance to take my future child on his (or her…you never know) first street racing adventure, but you can bet I’ll give them the go-fast fever, just like my dad gave me.

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3 thoughts on “Street Racing

  1. Hey Tommy I understand what you are saying but as you get older you realize that you wasnt being very smart by street racing. I have a few stories of my own. My best is the night that Bledsoe played Dunlap in a football game i went to the vet office and lined up on 127 I hadnt even stopped smoking the tires in my chevelle with a 454 when the blue lights came on. I guess we should have looked better we didnt see the trooper setting under the tree with the front row seat to see what we was doing. Lucked up and convinced him that we wasnt racing just being stupid and only got a ticket for reckless driving. Best advise is go to the drag strip on Friday night and spend the 15 dollars now. Enjoyed the photos and story you do great work.

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