Street racers have safe alternative for racing at Gateway Motorsports Park

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MADISON, IL (KPLR) - Street racing may be to blame for recently sending two drivers to the hospital.  But there is a safe alternative for those who have a need for speed.

This Friday, the stands at Gateway Motorsports Park will be filled with thousands of fans for Gateway’s Midnight Madness.  On the drag strip, about 500 racers will face off, two at a time, trying to achieve their fastest quarter-mile.

Its fast and fun, but a far cry from the streets, where racers might end up in jail or seriously injured.   Monday morning, a FOX 2 camera captured cars speeding on Hall Street, likely using both north and southbound lanes to race.

And then, a terrible wreck: victims were removed from mangled cars, and at least two were transported to the hospital in serious condition.  St. Louis police are still investigating.

At Gateway Motorsports Park, many of the drag racers are former street racers who experienced the darker side of their old hobby.  Gateway General Manager Chris Blair explains, “Sometimes a friend of theirs gets killed in the illegal activity, it kind of serves as a wakeup call. So what we’re trying to do is educate, and we’re working with people who in the past, may have been fixtures in the illegal racing scene, we’re trying to use them to help us spread the word that it’s cool to be out here at the racetrack.”

Blair says the prizes, professional photos, and glory of winning in front of thousands give Gateway an extra draw.  “Here, we’re hoping to build some heroes locally out of people who are doing it the right way,” he explains.

It’s the thrill of speed, without much of the risk.  Each car has a quick safety inspection before the race, to check for tire pressure and other issues.  And certified safety crews and an ambulance wait in the wings, just in case.

Midnight Madness, held 11 times throughout the season, kicks off Friday night right at 6pm.  The racing runs from 7pm until 1am.​