Jul 18, 2022 - News

City Hall to take on drag racing

Illustration of a checkered flag taped to a "SLOW" street sign.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Alderpeople have introduced a new ordinance to curb drag racing and drifting.

Why it matters: Dangerous car racing and tricks are filling empty parking lots and clogging up downtown street corners. When police arrive, the crowds are increasingly hostile and violent.

State of play: Late Saturday night, a huge crowd took over a West Loop intersection.

  • Cars whipped around in circles as onlookers watched and recorded.
  • The crowd later tried to gather at the South Loop Whole Foods, but police trapped cars and fined attendees.
  • One person was arrested for allegedly tossing fireworks at police.

Context: These large gatherings have been happening all summer. During the Fourth of July weekend, crowds turned violent toward police, smashing windshields and hurling fireworks, rocks and bricks at and into their cars.

What they're saying: "That says to me that the people who were acting so brazenly have no respect for themselves, but they do not have respect for the institution like the police department," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a press conference.

Driving the news: The proposed new ordinance, introduced by downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), would create stiffer penalties, including impounding cars on-site.

Zoom out: This isn't just a Chicago problem. Several other big cities, including Denver and the Twin Cities in Minnesota, are seeing issues.

What's next: City Council is scheduled to vote on the new ordinance Wednesday.

  • Plus, Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) is holding a press conference tomorrow to introduce other solutions in his Southwest Side ward.

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