Illegal street racing has been raging around the United States for decades, and while it’s best known for its association with California and the massively profitable Fast and Furious film series, head-to-head drag races can be seen in a variety of locations.
In the last year, Atlanta’s scene has erupted. Street racers, stripped of pubs, parties, and business, have claimed the roads as their high-speed playground as Covid keeps people indoors and traffic low.
Residents of the hardest-hit areas, which stretch from East Atlanta to rich Buckhead on Atlanta’s north side, are at a loss about what to do.
The number of 911 calls referencing “drag,” “racing,” or “doughnuts” increased from around to 568 in October 2020 from 36 in February, according to the Atlanta Police Department.
A huge crowd of onlookers blocked the Peachtree Street overpass, the main street in Midtown Atlanta, while a vehicle conducted 360-degree flips, according to a video posted on Facebook during the 4th of July weekend.
According to WSB-TV, a woman from northeast Atlanta said: “They’ve absolutely shut down the lane. Neighbors were often afraid that if a stunt driver lost control or cars in a side-by-side race ran the wrong red light, pedestrians or other vehicles could be killed.
“Street racing” is also used as a catch-all phrase. It could be two cars speeding side by side, as was the case for most of last year in this neighborhood. It may also be “laying drag,” which involves zig-zagging or 360-degree doughnut flips, as defined by the statute.
Drivers will stage a “takeover,” stopping traffic from the opposite direction and performing “sideshows” for onlookers. Burnouts, which involve spinning their wheels while stationary to produce spectacular plumes of smoke, are a common technique.
Locals claim that stunts like these have been more popular in recent years than conventional races.