James Hinchcliffe wins Indy Lites race in Long Beach

Toronto racing fans should be proud today, as home town boy James Hinchcliffe has won his first ever Indy Lites race and doing it in style. Not only did Hinch win at Long Beach, but he won from the pole. In fact, he led every lap! That isn’t to say it came easily, as he had to fight off Californian Charlie Kimball who was pumping hard to please his hometown crowd.
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When does street racing become a criminal offence?

Last week, the Provincial government here in Ontario announced that they would be working to make street racing a criminal offence. Within days of this announcement, a couple were killed on the way to celebrate their 17th wedding anniversary when they turned left in front of a street race in action. Investigators estimate that the Civic that hit them was travelling in excess of 150 kmh, or just under 100 mph. The 18 year old driver will be facing criminal charges when he is in more stable medical condition. Of course the timing of this tragedy was perfect for the media and the politicians and this kid will spend years in prison, because he was a moron who thought he was invincible.

Of course the biggest tragedy here is the 7 year old who has no parents. Why? Because 2 delinquents didn’t have the smarts to take it to the track and (here comes some controversy) because the parent who was driving didn’t look properly before turning into oncoming traffic. Yes, sometimes people die because they too made a mistake.

The purpose of this post though is to ask the question “when does street racing become a crime?”

Any warm blooded male (and many females for that manner) would be lying if they said they had never left a light a little bit faster than they should have when there was an opponent of some sort in the next lane. Last night, while returning home from a kid’s baseball game, Mrs. G ran her Protege5 through the gears to “beat Daddy” at the urging of our 2 boys, while Miss Shelby sat beside me and asked why Mom was racing us. Just to have fun. People have been having impromtu street races since we’ve had cars. Before there were cars, there were bicycles and even horses. Unplanned, uncontrolled races are nothing new, nor are they ever going to stop. It is the competitive nature of humans. Modern pop culture owes a lot to the hot rod culture of the 50’s. Where would we be without the Beach Boys or Jan & Dean. But wait…as we groove to the tunes, it is really a song about death from street racing.

The very lawyers who are campaigning to make steet racing a criminal offence show up at the courthouse in Audi S4’s and BMW M3’s, not to mention the odd CTS-V. Are we to believe that each one of them hasn’t lit their beast up when leaving a light even once?

Obviously it is tragic when someone dies of any cause, even more so when it is a result of someone’s selfish misbehaviour. That is not my point. If someone dies, it seems pretty basic that the racers involved are guilty of criminal negligence. But what about the 2 guys who make eye contact at a light, notice each other’s sweet ride and launch the car when the light turns green, only to stop at the next light, wave and drive away normally. Did they just commit a criminal act?

Where should the line be drawn? What can we do to add some element of control to the more extreme street racing?