What are the Different Types of Illegal Racing?

Lori Kilchermann

There are many forms of illegal racing that occur on a nightly and daily basis around the world, with the most frequent occurrences of illegal racing involving automobiles and motorcycles. Drag racing is perhaps the most common and recognizable form of illegal racing. All that this form of racing requires is a straight stretch of road and two willing participants. Another type of illegal racing that is popular with sports car and motorcycle drivers alike is known as canyon racing. In this type of competition, racers attempt to speed through a twisting and turning downhill road course, with the winner typically being the one who doesn't crash.

Drag racing -- which typically involves two cars competing over a stretch of straight road -- is one of the most common types of illegal racing.
Drag racing -- which typically involves two cars competing over a stretch of straight road -- is one of the most common types of illegal racing.

Law enforcement officers are very strict when it comes to any form of illegal racing. The danger in this type of activity comes from improperly-prepared vehicles, a lack of safety equipment and unaware bystanders who unknowingly drive into a makeshift race course. There is even illegal racing of watercraft that often results in the injury and death of innocent people swimming and boating in the wrong place at the wrong time. This occurrence is so dangerous that officials often confiscate the race vehicle at the first offense.

Street racing is often fuelled by Hollywood movies.
Street racing is often fuelled by Hollywood movies.

The street racing scene in most major cities around the world is fueled by U.S. Hollywood movie makers. In the 1950s, American stars such as Marlon Brando and James Dean became popular by racing into the night as some fellow teenager dropped a flag or a handkerchief to start the race. As popular as this type of action is, Hollywood continues to produce movies featuring illegal racing, such as "The Fast and The Furious" along with all of its sequels. When illegal racing is glamorized, often scores of the world's youth are indoctrinated into the illegal world of street racing.

Hollywood is not alone in perpetuating this dangerous activity. Video games project illegal racing in many forms to young, impressionable minds. Even cross-country automobile racing with the winner taking the entire prize is glamorized in cartoons.

It is not only motor vehicle racing that is dangerous. Every year, people are injured and even killed in illegal downhill racing on skis and snowboards. In this activity, not only are the other innocent skiers placed in harm's way, but the very landscapes of trees and rocks become danger zones in these unsafe practices. The thrill of competition is difficult to resist, and some overly competitive people cannot avoid the allure, even if it's an unsafe activity.

People arrested for illegal street racing may have their cars impounded.
People arrested for illegal street racing may have their cars impounded.

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Discussion Comments


Boat racing is almost always illegal when it is done outside of a sanctioned event. There are almost more dangers involved with boat tracing than street racing.


I work in a body shop and we get a lot of guys coming in that want to make their cars more aerodynamic for street racing. They will have us shave down the body or put on a spoiler. Most of the time the stuff is only making their car look cooler, it is not making it drive any faster. But work is work and the customer is always right. I don't much care what they do with their cars once they pay me and drive away.


I live pretty close to the industrial part of town where there are long straight stretches of road that almost no one drives down at night. It is pretty common on Friday and Saturday nights to hear the sounds of illegal drag racing going on.

Guys have these souped up street racing cars and they will race for about a half of a mile. Sirens inevitably end up showing up eventually. I have never been down to see the races myself but I think it might be fun. I know it is illegal but who are they really hurting?


I don't know if there is technically a law against this on the books but when I was a teenager my friends and I used to have downhill skateboarding races and we got in trouble with the cops on several occasions.

The cops did not arrest us or confiscate our board or anything but they had us sit on the curb and yelled at us and threatened to call our parents. At the time we were just young punks and did not pay the cops much mind but they probably had a point. We used to skate on this long winding road and it would have been really easy for a semi to take out 6 of us at once. I've come to realize that sometimes the cops have a responsibility to protect you from yourself.

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