Every Friday night it was a ritual to go street racing behind the warehouses in Ontario, California; that was the popular thing to do with your friends back in the summer of 2000. I was just seven-teen years old and my mom had just purchased me a red 1995 Honda Civic coupe EX stick-shift that was lowered and had a very loud exhaust. I had made friends with other people with the same type of vehicles as mine, so we considered ourselves “street racers”.
My husband, at that time was my boyfriend, was also into this sport so we would spend a lot of time together at the street races. I wasn’t as experienced as him, so I would just go to be a spectator and support him. The routine was to hang around the gas station. Everyone would pretend to put gas and park at the gas station to scout the competition. When you would arrive there, you can hear everyone’s engines roaring and exhaust rattling as you pass by the cars. Some cars sounded amazing because you could feel the deep vibration of the engines power just passing by you, especially if they had turbo. The turbo sounded so beautiful because of the blow off valve. It was very sexy to hear since it was very rare. Once you scouted your competitor then you would agree to meet up behind the warehouse. It was always a battle between imports versus domestics. There were more imports out there at the races, so eventually imports would race against each other but the most exciting races would be the imports versus domestics. I don’t know why domestic cars always thought they were faster than imports.
Soon after, all the spectators would follow them to an isolated area behind warehouses to set up to race. It was very fun and exciting because you were going to compete against other cars to see which car was the fastest. It was very organized; one person would be at the end of the street with a walkie-talkie and block any type of traffic flow to avoid accidents. All the spectators would park alongside the road. They would get out of their cars so they can have a better view of the race. When you were the spectator, you would feel the power of the cars just flying by you. Most of the spectators would have “show-cars”. We would call it “show-cars” because they had really nice paint jobs, body kits, and big chrome rims. They were considered the beauty pageants because they were all show and no speed. So you can totally distinguish who was out there to race and who was out there to look. Once the lanes were cleared, they would communicate with the starting line-up and then the races would begin. To start the race, usually a girl would get in between two cars in front of the racers and flag them to “Go”. Some girls would use their bras to use as a flag to start the race.
Most of the time, we knew that domestic cars were going to cause a lot of smoke due to tires not gripping at take-off. They had too much torque so we knew to be prepared for that smoke that could come towards you and just watch out for drivers losing control of their vehicle. Some would fish-tail so you would just have to be ready to move out of the way just in case. I always thought that the girls that would flag the race were nuts. Who would want to be standing in between two car going full speed at you? That was my biggest fear when I was there. When the smoke would clear out that’s the first thing I would look for, the girl being safe.
The races would end once the helicopters and police officers would show up to the area. You can see the lights shinning into your car from all direction, from the helicopters and the police officers trying to blind you as you drive away because they want you to stop. People sometimes would be on the sidewalks when cops arrived. The people would be running and jumping into bushes to hide from the cops. There is a theory that the less weight you have in your vehicle the faster it could go. There was one scenario when my cousin was setting up to race so his passenger got off. My cousin finished racing when the cops arrived but he was at the finish line and his passenger was at the starting line. My cousin panicked and took off without his passenger because he didn’t want to get pulled over. My husband and I began to take off. My cousin’s passenger noticed us so he began to run alongside our moving car trying to jump into our car through the driver side-window and yelling to us, “Let me in.” He was chocking my husband because he was pulling his seatbelt when he was attempting to jump into the window. We stopped and my husband opened the driver door but the passenger disappeared. Suddenly he shows up on the passenger side, where I was sitting. I eventually opened the door and he got into the back seat of our car and we took off. We couldn’t stop laughing because we couldn’t believe that he was trying to jump into the moving cars’ window. Everyone would just be scrambling to their cars and taking off different directions to avoid being the very last one in the pack. There were too many cars and very few cops therefore we knew the risk involved. We just hoped that we wouldn’t stand out too much to the cops and get pulled over.
My husband was no stranger to the races. One time, when he was racing he saw the cops coming towards his direction so he put his car in reverse so he could go another direction. He never thought of looking back. There was already a cop behind him. My husband backed into the cop car front bumper. He had been caught a couple of times already by the cops so I felt that I had an expert with me. When I began to go with him, I was his good luck charm; he never got caught by the cops ever again.
At times we were very disappointed in going to the street races because people would just go to hangout and just made a lot of commotion. I remember people just cruising in the lanes trying to show off their audio system and televisions. They would be bumping their music so loud that their trunks would be rattling and you could feel the vibration of the sound waves coming at you. They would be playing pornographic movies in their televisions; that was very disrespectful to women. We were just trying to race and keep it quiet and they were doing just the opposite. When that began to occur, that’s when we stopped going to the street races but that didn’t stop us from racing.
The city was fully aware of the problem they were having so they began to open a quarter-mile track for street racers at the California Speedway in Fontana, California to promote legal street racing. The first weekend they opened it was so overcrowded that they didn’t know how to accommodate so many racers. A lot of the racers were turned away because they were at full capacity. I remember having to get in line at midnight to be guaranteed a spot to race because only the first 100 racers would be allowed to enter. We literally would spend the night in our cars until the gate would open at 7:00 am. I still miss street racing but doing the quarter mile did seem to be the responsible thing to do.
I remember being eighteen years of age already and I finally had the guts to race in the track. I was actually seven months pregnant but that didn’t stop me from racing. I raced about two different times that day. We had a 1993 Acura Integra with a B16 engine and a 70 shot of N.O.S. (Nitrous Oxide System). We had literally stripped the inside of this car; we only had a driver and passenger seat and the N.O.S. bottle bolted. We did this to make the vehicle as light as possible. The first time I went up to the light to race, I was very nervous because I had never squeezed before. Squeezing was the term you used when you used N.O.S. I had raced here and there at the residential streets but this was a legit race. You first have to wait for three yellow lights to go by and until the green light goes, then you can take off. If you take off before the green light, it’s considered a foul so other person would automatically win. The rush you get from racing another vehicle is unexplainable. Nothing I had ever done in my life had ever given me that feeling so I really enjoyed those moments. I think what made it even more memorable was the fact that I was a girl. There were not that many girls competing so I felt even more special when I would go against a guy. The guys of course did not want to admit that a girl beat them at the quarter mile, but I loved the feeling of winning.
Now, fifteen years later I look back I can’t believe that I didn’t get killed. There were so many times that we could have lost control of our cars and ended up crashing into people or property. I see street racing as a very dangerous and selfish act now. I personally know people that kept going to the street races and eventually lost everything because they had an accident and killed someone. They damaged their persona because they couldn’t get a decent job due to their driving record or they killed themselves. I think my feelings about racing have changed because I’m more mature and I’m a mother. The knowledge that I have gained from other people’s experiences have opened my mind to understand that it was not right for me to feel the way I did before. Racing while pregnant definitely shows that I was very selfish person back then. Even though I was doing the racing legally it was still dangerous because I was pregnant. Today, if I was expecting I would never put myself in that situation. Don’t take me wrong, I still love racing however I’m never going to jeopardize someone else’s life to satisfy my cravings of excitement. I have my own kids and they know that racing was something that my husband and I enjoyed doing when we were teenagers. Now I worry about them because soon they will become drivers. I don’t want them to think that because their parents did it, it was okay. I explained to my kids that street racing was very dangerous and I give them examples of real scenarios to prove my case to them. Now, my husband and I go to Las Vegas every year in December to go race exotic cars at a race track. It’s still dangerous but we have a professional instructor by our side guiding us to make it safe and fun. Those five laps that I do once a year do help me satisfy those feelings that I once experienced when I was 17 years old. My kids get nervous when they see me race at the track, but they know that this is what I love to do.