Colorado’s program runs drag races off the streets, on the track
MORRISON | Frustrated by an increase in dangerous street racing amid the pandemic, Denver Police deployed the department’s helicopter to track races, closed lanes in areas often used by runners, and dispatched officers to locations where groups meet.
But law enforcement has also shifted gears to tackle the problem, using a racetrack in the foothills west of the city to provide a safe place for those who feel the need for speed.
Colorado State Patrol has partnered with Bandimere Speedway to draw runners from public areas to a more controlled environment, even allowing participants to race with a soldier driving a patrol car.
Recently, dozens of riders lined up to race the fast lane, cranking their engines and squealing their tires before rolling down the quarter-mile track. Most drove highly tuned vehicles, but there were occasional production SUVs or pickup trucks.
“It’s a great alternative to street racing. You can bring out whatever you’ve got, whether it’s a mom’s supercar or van, grandpa’s Buick. We all want to see them here. … And you can race with a cop, and do it legally, ”said State Trooper Josh Lewis, who beat a Toyota SUV in his first race last week by going close to 143 km / h.
The Colorado State Patrol has been involved in the “Take it to the Track” event for more than a decade, but its goals have grown in importance and urgency after two recent high-profile street racing incidents in the area. .
On April 3, police said a mother of two who delivered food was killed when a street racer dropped her car with her SUV in the heart of downtown Denver.
About a month earlier, hundreds of street runners blocked a stretch of highway in the suburb of Aurora, some reportedly blocking their shoulders to keep officers away. Police warned other motorists to avoid traffic jams after reports of gunshots and fireworks.
Lewis said the impact of the “Take it to the Track” program on illegal racing is difficult to quantify, but nonetheless provides important community awareness.
“We don’t necessarily know the data to be able to save it, but whenever we’re here we always get people coming to us and telling us how much they appreciate the program, how awesome it is, how much it is. ‘is fun,’ he says.
The event takes place every Wednesday throughout the summer.
Ray Propes, 58, of Windsor, said he started street racing as a teenager and found himself doing it “every time I got in a car it seemed to me.
“I was 16, it didn’t take me six months to lose my license,” he said. “I was running anything and anyone all the time.”
He’s since traded back then for the track, in part because conditions are more predictable and “you don’t get the tickets you get on the street.”
“The prepared track. The traction is there. Straight line. You don’t have to worry about accidents, animals, kids, birds, anything, ”he said.
Tyler Truini, 28, of Colorado Springs, left work early one day last week to “just play on the track” at Bandimere Speedway.
He said he avoids illegal racing because his 2019 Dodge Charger Hellcat is too fast for the streets.
“A lot of my friends that I hang out with, we always talk about coming to the track because it’s a lot easier, and it’s better for the car and better for the safety of others,” he said. .