On a cold October night in Markham, Ontario, car enthusiasts bring their rides out to empty parking lots to share their passion with others.
While they may not be doing anything wrong, these activities are frowned upon by locals, and seen as “illegal” by local law enforcement. Approximately three years ago, York Regional Police, in partnership with other jurisdictions, launched a campaign called “Project E.R.A.S.E”, which stands for Eliminate Racing Activity on Streets Everywhere. The campaign is an evolution of programs created throughout the years, and the goal is exactly what it sounds like.
Squad posted at Funky Munkey waiting for this empty lot to fill. 416runs to follow. pic.twitter.com/Dz9czQzgCl
— Jesse Carmichael (@j_carmichael) October 18, 2017
While street racing and meeting up with friends in parking lots may sound nothing alike, enthusiasts say they are targeted no matter what. As a result of the campaign, many seemingly innocent parking lot shows and meetups have been shut down over the past three years.
“Unfortunately, we’re the ones that get picked on for just sitting here having a good time. It’s easier to pick on us when we’re stopped, than to try to deal with racers in cars twice as fast as a police cruiser.” Liam Chadwick-Simpson says.
Chadwick-Simpson, who used to race go-karts competitively throughout his early teens, is no stranger to high speed, high stress situations, but he prefers to talk with others, rather than street race.
“There’s a time and a place for everything,” Chadwick-Simpson explains. “It’s honestly not worth the risk for me. I’m young, and I’m already by police, and insurers.”
That’s not to say that street racing is not an issue, because it is. Thomas Barrett, another car enthusiast, agrees that street racing can be dangerous.
“No matter how hard you try, street racing won’t be stopped. There’s organized night events all over the city, and if you know where to look, you’ll have no trouble finding them.” Barrett explains.
Barrett is no stranger to street racing, not as a participant, but as a spectator. He doesn’t care for the high-risk factor involved with street racing, but does find it entertaining to watch.
“I understand the crackdown on street racing, cause we have seen some bad crashes,” Barrett continues, “but it’s just ridiculous how many little pop up meets have been shut down as a result.”
Just a simple look around the city can find numerous street races.