Quinnipiac: too fast, too furious?

By on December 4, 2003

Students interviewed at Quinnipiac University recently expressed their concern about the dangers of illegal street drag-racing, a problem plaguing New Haven streets only a few miles away. The consensus of the students is that drag-racing on public streets is a dangerous pastime, and reckless drivers ought to curb their need for speed until New Haven can build a regulated track.

The student’s unease stems from an Aug. 25 article in the New Haven Register detailing the drag-racing scene on Long Wharf Drive. The story, titled “The Fast and the Furious,” reported that illegal racing has become a popular nighttime practice, with drivers converging from all over the state to test their speed skills and hooked-up cars.

Quinnipiac student Robert Panick, 18, a criminal justice/English major, knows this scene well and understands the risks involved with drag racing firsthand.

“It’s absolutely dangerous,” Panick said. “I started going with my cousin when I was 15. I did my first drag race when I was 17.”

Accoring to Panick, the possibility of bodily harm or crashing still did not deter him from racing.

“I’ve done it altogether about 10 times,” he said. “I just crashed my car about a month ago because my brakes went out from drag-racing.”

Police are catching on and cracking down on these unlawful races, pulling over motorists and clearing out areas where racers and their supporters congregate.

Lt. Joseph Streeto, the district manager for the area, told the Register that “police were equally serious about stopping it before someone gets killed.” And someone did.

According to another article in the New Haven Register, on Sept. 7, Adam Ortiz, 22, was killed in an illegal street race when he lost control of his car and it struck a tree at over 100 mph.

The students, like the police, see the danger that goes along with this activity. All the students interviewed saw safety as the most important factor in determining whether they drive over the speed limit.

“I enjoy driving fast if there’s no one on the road and if it’s safe to do so,” said Cole Clifford, 19, a history major at Quinnipiac University.

Why is driving fast so great, and what makes drag-racing so enticing to young adults today? Some feel that movies such as “The Fast and the Furious” have glamorized street racing, giving it a vast appeal in today’s high-speed society. Megan Carroll, 19, an undecided liberal arts student at Quinnipiac University, puts it in simpler terms however.

“Driving fast gives me a rush,” she said.

One possible solution to this situation would be for New Haven to build a regulated drag-racing track. Most students felt this would be a great way to solve the problem, except for Rick Coppola, 20, a bio pre-med major at Quinnipiac University.

“New Haven has enough problems,” said Coppola. “They have bigger fish to fry than building a drag-racing track.”


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