BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland State Police forced illegal street racers to hit the brakes after a trooper came upon the race.
It was a surprise for both the MSP trooper and a crowd of illegal street racers when he stumbled on their starting line Sunday night.
The races are illegal, and wildly popular. So much so, that racers weren’t even trying to hide this weekend when they came to the starting line that was less than a mile from State Police barracks.
The stakes are high, and so are the speeds.
“The speeds that they’re traveling are very dangerous,” said MSP Sgt. Robert Quirk.
Racers tearing down Baltimore County streets, often at twice the speed limit. Authorities say it’s popular, it’s illegal, and it’s tough to stop.
“This goes on all different days and different hours, so it’s hard for us to keep up with when the next race will be,” said Quirk.
Sunday was a win for law enforcement, when trooper on routine patrol spotted a group of modified cars and 50 street racing fans on a stretch of Kelso Dr., just off Rossville Blvd.
“They were revving their motors, getting ready to begin an illegal street race,” Quirk said.
One racer fled, while the other was arrested.
Michael Chen now faces a mix of criminal charges and traffic tickets. Troopers say he was behind the wheel of a white corvette, and ready to race.
There are rubber marks on the road, evidence that drivers know how to gain traction and how to gain speed. Troopers say it’s the unknowing bystanders who are in the most danger.
In 2008, street racing proved deadly in Prince George’s County, killing eight and injuring five, when an unsuspecting driver not involved in a race plowed into a crowd of fans, leaving bodies scattered along a 200-yard stretch of Route 210.
“It came through here, and people were flying everywhere,” said one person involved in the 2008 incident. “It hit people, man. That’s something you’re not supposed to see.”
The problem for authorities is as quickly as they stop races, others hit the gas again.
“They’re just going to pick another location. This is a big problem in Baltimore County,” Quirk said.