It’s New Haven’s version of “The Fast and the Furious” - drag racing on public streets.
It has become a dangerous but common trend in New Haven. Drivers, and spectators alike, have gathers on long, flat public streets, in an illegal display of speed, that police would like to eliminate.
This weekend, New Haven Police waved the red flag, halting the racing. Ten cars were towed, and 47 adults and one juvenile were arrested for a variety of charges, tied to drag-racing on Foxon Boulevard.
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“As a police department we are going to do everything we can to send the message that that behavior will not be tolerated,” said Sgt. Shayna Kendall of the New Haven Police.
It’s behavior though that has been in New Haven for years. Not only on Foxon but also Ella Grasso Boulevard and Long Warf. Witnesses says the events draw hundreds of people.
“They just do it for fun,” said Sean Diaz, an East Haven resident who has seen the races. “They like to race and when the cops come, they just run.”
The crowds and deafening noise have disrupted businesses. Nirave Patel manages the Days Inn along what has become a common drag-racing area. He says the noise, aggravates customers and disrupts his business. He says it has cost the business up to $50,000 this year.
“I’ll come in, in the morning (after a night of racing) and the first thing I’m bombarded with is refunds.”
Patel is not alone. Police say they’ve received several complaints from area businesses.
“(People) can’t even enter the business because of the large amounts of vehicles that are staging there for these races,” said Kendall.
Yadira Correa lives in the area and has actually raced.
“I love it. I honestly love to hear the races and stuff like that,” she said.
Correa explains there is a wide range of motivation for the racers, including monetary wagers and the possibility of winning the competitor’s car.
“Some people do it title for title. Some people do it for money. Some people do it to show off to see what’s under the hood,” said Correa.
Business managers like Patel are hopeful the recent crackdown will help, but aren’t completely satisfied.
“We’ll see what happens this weekend. I’m still not convinced. I just get a feeling they’re gonna stop for a while and then come back,” says Patel.
New Haven police said this is not a one-time operation and that they plan to continue policing this issue. Those who were arrested Saturday were all given misdemeanor summons with a court date and will face a judge for their charges.
Any information can be made anonymously to ECIC@newhavenct.gov.