Two viewS l Recent fatal accidents have shown the risks of illegal drag racing. Two racers explain their love of speed and suggest safer ways to chase the thrill.

While recent events are truly tragic, the proposed changes in local ordinances wouldn't have changed the outcomes. The accidents were not the fault of 'illegal street drags' as depicted in movies such as 'The Fast and the Furious.'

On the contrary, kids who are participating in those types of illegal drags do all they can to minimize the impact on themselves, their equipment, other drivers and spectators.

Typically they are held in places like the Warehouse in Northeast Portland, mentioned in a recent Oregonian article. These are areas where traffic is nearly nonexistent, and the races are held during hours when most people are home in bed and not driving the streets. Spectators and/or drivers typically are organized to the point of placing spotters to identify potential hazards to the racers. This includes any traffic that might wander into the area.

The racers are aware of the risks and consequences of their actions. They are willing to accept these risks. It has been mentioned that Portland International Raceway is open to street racers. This location, while a partial solution, is not enough because PIR only offers seasonal racing.

Multnomah County Sheriff Sgt. David Rader says: 'I tell my deputies, 'You hit them every chance you get. You show no mercy. You catch them, you write them every piece of paper you can.' '

This attitude is prejudiced and biased; the officers should be as aggressive with all drivers, not just kids in fast-looking cars. Law enforcement and others have zero tolerance for any behavior outside of the perceived norm. If your car has any of the following Ñ body kits, a loud exhaust and powerful stereo system Ñ you are a potential target.

I'm serious about racing. I've been at it about six months and respect the responsibility carried with racing.

I drive a 1997 Honda Prelude Turbo, and I race almost every weekend, joined by a racing crew of up to eight people. Our races generally cover a quarter mile, and speeds get up to 100 mph.

I've never been in a vehicle accident, including my racing.

The drivers involved in recent Portland area accidents are responsible for the decisions they made and the results of those decisions. They chose poor conditions: wet pavement, congested streets. The drivers of the vehicles where no death or injury occurred should not be charged. Simply 'speeding' down the street next to another driver who makes bad decisions shouldn't get you charged with manslaughter.

Mike McKeague, 18, is a member of Ill Intentionz Car Club. An Oregon City resident, he graduated from Oregon City High School and will begin studying at Clackamas Community College this spring.

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