Illegal street racing is at full throttle in Colorado

DougCo Deputies crackdown on street racing
Posted at 3:08 PM, May 01, 2017

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- Like clockwork, every Sunday night. I-25 South turns into a street racers dream. Cars built to go fast take over the highway at dangerously high speeds.

"There's a lot less traffic out," explained Douglas County Sergeant Rich Taylor.

"Clocked in the 140's, 150's all the way up to 160 MPH," said Douglas County Lt. Paul Rogers.

"How big of a problem is this?" asked Denver7 reporter Jennifer Kovaleski.

"I believe it's big," said Rogers.

Street Racing Videos

The videos are proudly all over YouTube.

This one clearly taken in Denver shows racers flying down I-25 near University Blvd.

"It's becoming increasingly worse, the groups are getting larger," said Taylor.

How it Works

Denver7 went along with Douglas County deputies to see if we could catch the racers. Thirty minutes into the drive, we found the car meet up.

"This is where they make their plans," explained Taylor.

On this Sunday, the meet up was in the empty parking lot at the Belleview Shores Shopping Center in Lakewood.

"Well over a thousand cars in there," said Taylor.

A lot of the cars are high end, including a souped-up, bright orange Corvette our cameras captured in the parking lot.

"Not all of these cars will go out and participate in the racing or follow them around, but a majority of them will go," said Taylor.

The meets serve as ways for many enthusiasts to meet and talk about their cars, but many will move on to race after the fact.

Shortly before 1 a.m., Denver7 cameras found the majority on the road, along with the bright orange Corvette.

Once we got in front of the racers, several large groups blocked traffic on I-25 South while two cars raced from Castle Pines to Tomah Rd.

Then, the racers turned around and did the same thing northbound where we found the bright orange Corvette for a third time.

We asked Douglas County why deputies can't pull these guys over and arrest them, but Lt. Rogers said it's not that simple.

Enforcement Challenges

"We just simply could not keep up with them if we wanted to," he said.

"And they know that," asked Kovaleski.

"I'm sure they do," explained Rogers.

Which makes enforcement difficult because to charge them with racing, deputies need to catch them.

"It's impossible to say that we can shut this thing down by the end of the summer," Rogers said.

But that's not stopping the Douglas County Sheriff's Office from cracking down on street racing.

"If we catch you, your car is going to get towed and you are going to go to jail," said Rogers.

Douglas County has had some success. Deputies recently arrested James Vengas and cited him with engaged in a speed contest and careless driving.

New Way to Track Street Racing

Douglas County is also taking a new approach to better track street racing and see how extensive the problem is.

Dispatcher are now trained to ask specific questions to identify to a call as a street racing, which in the past would have fallen under aggressive driving.

In the two months since the change, Douglas County said 35 people have called in to report racing.

"Put that data together and really show not only these guys, but the public that this a problem," explained Rogers.

Law enforcement from the across the state have also formed a working group where they meet to discuss new ways to combat street racing, since the problem is metro wide and racers can speed through multiple different counties on any given night.

Anything they can do to stay one step ahead of a growing problem, where racers always have the advantage of speed.

"They don't understand one bad split second decision can result in their death as well as the deaths of others," said Rogers. 

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