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Europe's first legal street race event

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  • Europe's first legal street race event

    Europe's first legal street race event.

    Boy racers take over city in Poland
    By Tamasin Ford
    Newsbeat reporter in Poland

    Speeding videos on YouTube, screeching tyres late at night, pimped up vehicles and nasty accidents. The problem of so called boy racers tearing up the streets affects towns and cities all over the UK and abroad. It was becoming such a problem in one city in Poland, police have teamed up with the illegal street racers themselves to do something about it.

    Street racing in the Polish city of Lodz

    Eighty miles from the capital Warsaw lies Lodz, famous in Poland for its film school but famous amongst locals for its illegal street races.

    Magda says she used to meet other illegal street racers most evenings.

    She said: "Every night when we can race on the streets, it's really really nice. We can meet together and race together."

    When it was illegal it was in strange places, the streets were in bad conditions. Now it's very good
    Street racer Anna

    Hundreds of people, sometimes thousands, would turn up to secret street racing events around the city.
    Most would finish with a police raid along with several fines for the drivers.

    Sergeant Kinga Krzeszewska from Lodz police says it was a big problem.

    She said: "The speeds were really high, sometimes 250kph (155mph). It was a great danger not only for the drivers but also for the public."

    She said there were no safety barriers and no way of checking whether the drivers had been drinking or taking drugs.

    "A lot of the spectators were as young as 10 or even seven years without any adult supervision," she added.

    Alternative action

    The fines and police raids didn't work so officers took a different course of action.

    They got together with the illegal racers and for one night only, every month, they cordon off part of the city then let drivers loose on the streets to go as fast as they like.

    Anyone can race, as long as their car works and is legal on the roads and the driver lives in or around Lodz.
    The idea is to get the fastest speed over a quarter of a mile of road.

    Martin used to race on the streets around Lodz at night.

    He's now one of the organisers of what is called Street Legal, Europe's first legal street race event.

    He said: "All the people who are involved are young people, the ones who used to be involved in illegal street racing. Now they are doing something completely different."

    System working

    Drivers get to put their foot down, the spectators are safe and now Sergeant Kinga Krzeszewska says the police are happy.

    "From our knowledge we've got 80% less illegal racing in Lodz right now," she said.

    "Plus we have more spectators than the illegal races. Sometimes even 10,000 people come to see our race."
    So is there a chance of something like this happening in the UK?

    Apparently not. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) in England and Wales say there isn't a problem with widespread illegal racing.

    It says to encourage competitive driving on public roads would lead to more casualties.

    Police chiefs in Scotland say they have no plans to introduce legal street racing either.

    But back in Lodz, there is no doubt Street Legal has gone down well, at least with the drivers, like Anna in her Audi.

    She said: "When it was illegal it was in strange places, the streets were in bad conditions.

    "Now it's very good, I'm glad they did this."

    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2008/05/23 07:30:44 GMT


  • #2
    Bogus Trend Story of the Week

    press box
    Bogus Trend Story of the Week
    The Los Angeles Times on Southern California street racing.
    By Jack Shafer
    Posted Friday, Oct. 12, 2007, at 6:16 PM ET

    One way newspapers indemnify themselves against charges that they've published a bogus trend story is by constructing ledes that essentially say this isn't a trend story because it's been going on for a long time.

    The Los Angeles Times follows this course in Thursday's (Oct. 11) Page One story "Street racing takes on a deadly new form." The triple-bylined piece acknowledges at its start that young Los Angelinos were street racing well before the hot-rod fad of the 1950s. It concedes that despite spending "decades" trying to stop the racers, police are still "struggling to fight the practice."

    But then, as the piece starts piling up body-count anecdotes—reporting that "nearly 100 people die each year in California as a result of illegal street racing"—it gently morphs into an unsubstantiated trend story about the changing face of street racing:

    Detectives said they are increasingly seeing a particularly dangerous form of racing, called "cutting the gap"—impromptu speed contests in which racers weave in and out of traffic.

    Note the imprecision of the detectives' testimony. If this dangerous form of racing is increasing, what's the measure? Don't look for it in the story. Also, if "nearly 100 people die each year in California as a result of illegal street racing," is the number going up or down? Again, don't look for it in the story.

    After recounting another racing anecdote—one that took the life of Reyna De Leon—the story returns to its "increasingly" theme. The reporters write:

    The type of race that killed De Leon is becoming increasingly common, police said.

    Again, the piece provides no numbers, just the opinion of unnamed "police."

    Cops can be terrific sources—as long as you don't care whether they know what they're talking about. This lesson seems to be lost on the Los Angeles Times. If the observation that types of racing are increasing is good enough to bear repeating, surely some sort of documentation exists to support it. Right?

    The only surefire way to prove a trend's genuineness is to measure progress over time. The Times story sort of gets that, stating:

    In the past, most drag racers waited until night when traffic cleared up to stage their races, contacting each other on cellphones and Internet message boards to set dates and times for the illegal contests.

    Now, [LAPD Det. David] Millan and others said, a growing number of daredevils are embracing the thrill of rush-hour racing, leading to broad-daylight deaths of innocent bystanders.

    But "In the past" isn't a very precise interval. From context we can assume that the Times is referring to a time when young racers had access to cell phones and Internet message boards, which could be a single week last month or the two years between 1995 and 1998. Also note the nebulous observation sourced to Det. Millan and "others" that "a growing number of daredevils are embracing the thrill of rush-hour racing." If numbers are really growing, a theme the piece returns to for the third time, why not provide numbers? Perhaps because the numbers don't exist?

    When Times reporters finally deliver the hard, useful numbers the story cries out for, they write:

    From 2000 through 2006, drivers pleaded guilty to illegal speed contests in about 50,000 cases, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Last year, about 6,100 drivers pleaded guilty to drag racing, according to the DMV.

    By applying arithmetic to these numbers we learn that, on average, about 7,142 street racing guilty pleas were entered yearly over seven years. But only 6,100 guilty pleas were entered last year. One could argue by this crude measure that statewide racing is down or holding steady!

    Why, then, does the paper tilt the story in the other direction? If I, too, can be allowed to present anecdote as proof, it may be that the intense coverage of Los Angeles street racing provided by local TV news raises the perceptions that racing is growing when it really isn't. Gentlemen and ladies of the Los Angeles Times, please restart your engines.


    Thanks to reader William Murray, who alerted me to the article and suggested the arithmetic. Send bogus trend stories and other anecdotal evidence to [email protected] (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum, in a future article, or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

    Jack Shafer is Slate's editor at large.

    Article URL:

    Copyright 2008 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC


    • #3
      Re: Europe's first legal street race event

      I don't know about the trend part, but in Ontario, CA the weaving in and out of traffic racing is exactly what they do. Granted it's past 11pm, but there is still some traffic, in fact I was once part of that traffic. Never saw so many individual accidents in such a short distance.
      Escaped on a technicality.