APD’s Race-A-Cop draws street racers to the Amarillo Dragway
AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The Amarillo Police Department held Race-A-Cop over the weekend as an effort to draw street racers to the drag way and off of city streets.
APD said 1,450 people came to watch and 177 drivers showed up.
“We want to show the driving public, the streetcar scene, that there’s a safe alternative to racing on the streets,” says Martin Birkenfeld, Chief of Police, APD. “And this is it. It’s so much fun out here. This is the way to race, take it off the streets, bring it to the drag way.”
APD is constantly combating the street racing issue and Race-A-Cop is the newest tool.
“Our community’s told us on several occasions that street racing is a problem,” says Chief Birkenfeld. “We’ve seen it ourselves, we’ve had fatalities from street racing we don’t want that to happen, we don’t want innocent people killed on our streets. This is a great way to combat that. Let’s take it off the streets take it to the drag way.”
The department respects the car community and wants to give them a way to safely show what their cars can do.
“I think this gives folks an outlet,” says Chief Birkefeld. “Racing cars is fun, these cars look cool, they sound cool, it’s a lot of fun. We just feel like it’s a good way for our community to enjoy racing in an environment that’s safer.”
The Amarillo Dragway was overwhelmed by the communities response to the event.
“This gives everybody an opportunity to come out and give this a shot,” says Tyler West, General Manager of Amarillo Dragway. “There are tons of racers that we’ve never seen before. They probably run around on the streets all the time. This is a great way to get them involved in organized drag racing and show them that there is a place for them at the drag strip.”
The event gave racers the opportunity to go head-to-head with Amarillo police driving instructors. Chance Greer, a Race-A-Cop participant, was able to race his cousin, APD Sgt. Tony Vaughn.
“It’s a good thing that the cops we’re out here and helping out with the image of getting to race them,” says Greer. “Yeah, their cars are a lot slower but they’re going to catch you in the long run. There’s no sense in racing on the street, come to the track and have fun.”
APD achieved their goal of getting past and current street racers on the drag way with Greer.
“Street racing is a bad idea,” says Greer. “I’ve done it in the past, like an idiot, I think doing it here is a lot more fun. It takes the innocent factor out of it, all the people that don’t want to be involved. We all sign up for this.”
Up and coming Drag Racer Braydon Stephens says that street racers should “bring it to the strip” because it’s “a lot safer.”
“There’s so many things that can go wrong, you can get hurt, you can get in a lot of trouble for it,” says Stephens. “If you’re gonna race, bring it to the drag strip where it’s safe, you can’t get in trouble and if an accident happens there’s medical personnel here to help you.”
Stephens frequents the drag strip and says there are many perks.
“It’s a lot safer and you can have more fun out here,” says Stephens. “You’re not having to watch your back for cops looking for you or any of that. Bring it to the drag strip.”
The goal of Race-A-Cop was to show street racers there is another option, with more benefits.
“If there’s a way for people to learn without having to get tickets, without having to go to jail, without having to have their cars confiscated, and they can learn a better and safer way to do it, why not,” says Sgt. Carla Burr, Public Information Officer, APD.
The safe, legal alternative of the Amarillo Dragway provided a night of fun and racing, but Sgt. Burr stressed the importance of why APD hosted the event.
“It makes them aware of another option,” says Sgt. Burr. “It lets them know we are trying to work with them and not against them and it lets the community know we are trying to do something about it and hopefully we make a dent.”
Street racing is a problem that APD is constantly combatting and finding ways to fight, Race-A-Cop is just one method.
“We get out there when we can but we have to be careful too if they’re racing,” says Sgt. Burr. ”We want to stop them but we have to consider all the other traffic out there. We have to do it strategically and we’re working on that, we’ve got a lot of things in place that we’re working on to combat that.”
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