It's not a drag

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Strict new laws to curb street racing in Ontario weren't enough to save the life of Darren D'Souza.

But a program launched by Toronto Motorsports Park in Cayuga, near Hamilton, hopes to provide a safe alternative to deadly drag racing on city streets.

The 20-year-old Mississauga man was killed late on the evening of Sept. 29, 2008, when his high-powered Honda hatchback hit a light standard on Argentia Rd. while racing another car on the darkened street.

Police at the time were shocked that a 16-year-old boy was the alleged starter of the fatal race.

"Whether you are a spectator or a participant of an organized street race or if you are part of an impulsive, spontaneous race on our roadways, I urge you to consider that you are not only endangering your own safety, but you're also impacting the lives, safety and psychological well-being of many other people," Peel Regional Police Insp. Steve Pegrum told Sun Media's Tamara Cherry at the time.

ALL AGES

It was this accident, and too many others like it, that pushed TMP officials to start events at the track for people of all ages to bring their hot rods to the drag strip where one-on-one racing can be done is a safe environment.

And tomorrow hundreds will do exactly that when, Rich Christensen, host of SPEED TV's wildly popular Pinks All Out, brings his Arm Drop Live event to TMP.

"There were just too many deaths; too many young people being hurt in street races," TMP public relations director Jenn Bieri said yesterday. "We decided to open our track on Friday's during the racing season for 'test-and-tune' races."

That grew into the two-day Arm Drop Live event that last year sold out in record time. Bieri expects a huge crowd again tomorrow and for the finals Saturday.

What makes this event both special and authentic is Christensen's iconic way of starting each race. He stands between the two cars and at the drop of his arms the race begins.

"It replicates what the kids are doing on the streets, only here everything is monitored, everything is safe," Christensen said in a release.

Insp. Pegrum would agree.

"In the case we have before us (D'Souza's death), a young man with countless potential has been killed. His family and the families of all participants have been forever changed."

If one more deadly accident can be prevented then the TMP-sponsored program will be worth all the work, Bieri said.


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