It was July of 2004 and I just got a fun little sports car. It didn’t have a fast engine but it had a turbo boost and rode low, fast and took curves easy. I found my foot became heavy every time I got behind the wheel.
The fast & furious movies were popular and there were secret drag races happening all of the time.
I found out where and decided to join in for the fun. They took place in an old abandoned industrial parkway in a deserted area that never saw traffic. The street was long and nowhere near a residential area. It was perfect.
My cousin agreed to race me.
How it worked was, you arrived with the car and who you were racing and you didn’t stop to sign up or show your face, you arrived at the spot, you raced and then you got out of the way. Period.
We decided to go down the day before and do a trial run. She thought she was going to beat me in her little Mazda, and she should have with its bigger engine, but my quicker reflexes and driving skill won the race.
I thought that trial run prepared me for the following day but I hadn’t known just how many people would be there, how many cars would be lining the street and how much pressure I would feel when I got there.
We knew what to do, you rolled up to the stop sign and as soon as your racing buddy was beside you, you floored it.
My hands gripped that wheel so hard not only were my knuckles white but when I peeled my hands from the wheel a short minute later the driving wheel cover left a nice little imprint on my palms for a short while.
The race didn’t last long, we went flying down the street as the blur of people we passed cheered and waved. I beat her again, but that was the last race and last time I would be driving that car…I pushed it too hard and busted the engine block. I didn’t know this until that long ride home though…
We backed our cars up onto the sidewalk at the end of the line and sat on the car hood waiting for the next race to start. We had our music playing loud and were talking and laughing with the people around us until we heard it…the “whoop whoop” of the CCPD.
It all happened so fast, everyone ran to get into their cars and pulled out into the street all at once, making it impossible to drive anywhere.
I saw a few people drive up onto the sidewalk and go around, I followed. There was only 4 ways out and the cops had every exit blocked…they had been tipped off and they had us all right where they wanted us.
At the time I hadn’t realized there were only those 4 ways out so I kept following the cars on the sidewalk who took a sharp left onto this road which I thought must have been a back way, a 5th way out…
We raced down the gravel road, dust flying around us and lights behind chasing us.
I soon realized where we were, and how screwed we were.
We had taken the road to the gravel mounds where they piled up gravel for construction of whatever the hell they use it for.
My cousin was in her car ahead of me and drove as far as she could then backed into a spot in the dark by the trees behind a mill; I backed in next to her.
Of course they found us, they knew we had no place to go…and now they had us for evading.
I had never been so scared in my whole life before that moment.
I called my boyfriend who offered no words of support; that jerk.
I was scared they would be taking me to jail…I saw them loading people into the back of cruisers already, oh god!
Here it comes; the officer walks up to my door and asks me to step out of the vehicle then asks for my license and registration.
I had it ready and handed it over. He took it over to a squad car and handed it to someone inside who proceeded to turn his bright car light thingy on me so that all I could see was blaring light and then got on his loud speaker and said, “Ms. Santiago, what are you doing here?”
I blurted out, “I heard about what was going on and just came to watch”
He replies, “Aren’t you a little old to be doing this kind of thing?”
That really stung. I was only 27 or 28 then but realized that everyone else that was down there was much much younger, mid to late teens early twenties maybe.
I said nothing.
“Ms. Santiago, am I going to catch you down here again?” still on loud speaker
He turned his light away from my face and handed my license back to the officer who walked it over to me and told me to get out of there.
I turned to look at my younger cousin who was not so lucky; the officer was writing her a few tickets to take away as a parting gift.
I gave her the “I’m sorry” look and got the hell out of dodge. I got off lucky, I know I did.
Well, maybe I got lucky with the law but that race cost me a whole new car and $800 to a scam mechanic who locked up my car, took my money and then flew to Puerto Rico.
That car never got fixed, I never got that money back and I never raced again.