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We're souping up our rides. The neighbors are furious

Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

"Speedy" has been a pretty demanding mentor; every time Rodriguez thought the car might be finally complete, he was told no, it's not. The attention to detail apparently paid off; Rodriguez just sold his car to a Florida bodybuilder for $150,000. He says he hopes it's driven a lot and not just used for show.

"She's meant for the streets, never too pretty to get dirty," he said with a laugh.

Aftermarket professionals like the Rodriguez family and weekend hobbyists are pretty peeved with lockdown street racers who are making them all look bad. Pandemic restrictions have brought a sharp increase in drivers letting off some automotive steam in dangerous exhibitions fueled by social media.

The California Highway Patrol responded to nearly 26,000 street racing calls last year, up nearly 16% from the year before. In August, four people were killed in separate incidents in Burbank and Riverside when street racers lost control of their cars.

The California Legislature last week voted to allow judges to issue driver's license suspensions of up to six months to anyone participating in so-called sideshows, which the measure defines as two or more vehicles blocking traffic to performing vehicle stunts, speed contests or reckless driving for an audience. That's the same penalty that already applies to illegal street racing, which has surged during the pandemic.

"I authored AB 3 in response to what my local law enforcement officials conveyed as a growing safety issue in our community and across the state," said Assemblyman Vince Fong, a Republican representing Bakersfield, where last year police received more than 6,000 calls about illegal street racing. "Since AB 3's introduction, families broken apart by sideshows and illegal street racing crashes have reached out and even traveled to the Capitol to share heartbreaking stories of their loss."

 

Lawmakers in Los Angeles and other cities are being pressed to expand the number of speed bumps, traffic circles and other measures to slow cars down. "Noise cameras" are popping up in New York, Florida and Britain to crack down on loud exhaust systems.

"A lot of people are taking it to the streets, and I'm really against street racing," said Tatiana Weiss, 49, a Pacific Palisades real estate broker who used to drive an absurdly fast 485 horsepower Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack. Then, like some real life character in the "Fast and Furious" movie franchise, she decided it wasn't fast enough.

"I got called out a lot, but I will not race on the street. 'You want to bet me some money that you're faster?'" she'd say. "'Meet me at the track and let's do it.'"

On a medium called the City-Data.com Forum, a national platform for the discussion of local issues, the noise debate is aired out regularly.

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