Raceway option keeps heat away


I started street racing when I was 17. I had just got my first 'fast' car, or at least I thought it was fast. (It wasn't that fast.) I was driving down Northeast 122nd Avenue near Halsey Street on a summer night with a friend, and we saw about 80 to 100 cars in the Home Base parking lot. They were all muscle cars and hot rods, and there were some import racers as well.

I had no idea what it was, so I stopped and took a look. It was street racers! I went and watched some of them race out on Northeast Airport Way. It was the neatest thing I had seen yet at that golden age of 17.

And that's the point of all this: People like to drag race because it is fun. It gets your blood moving. I am sure that I'm not the only one who gets the leg shake when I am at the line seconds before the race is going to start, getting ready to go. Of course, I'm also making sure that the boost is set to high, that I'm in first gear and that my seat belt is on.

The starter's arms drop, and I try to find the magic spot where my clutch and gas pedals work together to achieve the least amount of tire spin and the most forward thrust. Sometimes the tires spin and squeal. As we go down the street and through the gears, our speed goes higher and higher: 20, 30, shift, 40, 50, 60, shift, 70, 80 É very quickly looking over to see if you are ahead.

It's that kind of nervous thrill that we live for. It's that rush that we love to feel before and during the race. We race for the rush and thrill going fast.

But I don't like when the police show up. I don't like running from them. That is not a rush for me.

That's why Portland International Raceway is one of the best things that could have happened. Now there is a safe place to go and race in a controlled environment. You get fancy starting lights to start you off, and you get a time slip at the end so you can analyze your run and make improvements in your driving style.

There is nothing that I could say that would make street racing OK. It's not. The stakes are high, and lately they have risen to the highest level yet, human life. Is it really worth the risk? My mom used to tell me that it's always fun until someone gets hurt É and guess what? She was right.

If you want to solve the street-racing problem, you need to provide a place to race. Racing is going to happen on the street no matter how tough the laws are. The racers will just go farther out to the suburban areas or over to Vancouver, Wash.

PIR has a good program, and I hope that the city will get it together and sponsor it. But even if you sponsor the track and promote it, there will be a few who will not want to go. That's their loss.

William Bray is a 23-year-old who races a 1991 Toyota Supra Turbo with an electronic boost controller.