Jul 12, 2022 - News

Street racing grows more popular in metro Denver

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The increase in illegal street racing across metro Denver since the start of the pandemic has yet to hit the brakes.

  • Most days, residents are seeing β€” and hearing β€” racers roar down highways and neighborhood blocks in packs of ATVs, motorcycles or tricked-out cars, as they block off streets to prevent police intervention and perform stunts for social media.

Why it matters: Drag racing is dangerous β€” not only for the people pressing the pedal, but everyone else on the roadways as well.

Driving the news: Late last month, a local volunteer firefighter and father of three was shot in Aurora while driving on Interstate 70 with his wife and children.

  • Aurora police claim street racers were involved, and have arrested a 20-year-old man on charges of first-degree murder.
  • The incident comes nearly a year after Aurora council members passed a measure to combat the issue by giving police authority to seize vehicles of drivers found repeatedly racing.

Meanwhile, Denver police say the problem has grown more prevalent over the past two years.

  • Pre-COVID, street racing "season" ran from early May through late fall, authorities tell Axios Denver.
  • Now it's occurring "year-round," subsiding only during inclement weather.

Zoom out: Street racing played a major part in violent weekends in Chicago and Minneapolis earlier this month, and remains a problem nationwide since surging at the height of the pandemic.

  • The issue has grown so severe that many cities and even some states, including Georgia, have passed laws cracking down on the illegal activity.

What they're saying: The Denver Police Department tells us local racers tend to be young men. Their findings align with national research, which finds that adolescents who take part are predominantly Latino and Black males.

  • Some of the city's drag-racing hotspots include South Federal Boulevard, Hampden Avenue, Montbello and the warehouse district in northeast Denver.

By the numbers: Arrests for drag racing have bounced since 2018, Denver police data finds.

  • The most arrests were made in 2020 (111) and 2018 (103), while 2019 and 2021 totaled 58 and 60 arrests, respectively.
  • As of June 27, there have been 23 related arrests in Denver this year, meaning the city could be on track to record its lowest total in at least four years.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more