Irwindale Dragstrip offers drivers a safe way to satisfy their need for speed

IRWINDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- Engines roaring, smoke filling the air, there's a way to satisfy your need for speed in a much safer place than the streets of Los Angeles.

On Thursday nights, the Irwindale Dragstrip allows drivers to hit the track, and try to win the race. For $40, drivers can bring their car for open Test and Tune.

"This has been my 12th time here at the track. I actually come here just to have fun, you know, enjoy the track," said Rudy Garcia. "Forty dollars, you get to run a lot of times, and just have fun and meet new people."

Drivers show up with race cars, pickup trucks, motorcycles and vehicles of every model and vintage. A sports car sometimes be seen going head-to-head on the track with a pickup.

Track operators hope people will come to Irwindale instead of taking part in illegal street racing. Those races have sometimes come to a tragic end.

"Most importantly it's safe. I'm an ex-street racer from back in my old days, you know," said Larry Cruz. "We were all kids at one time or another, but this is just so much safer."

Numerous Southern California communities have dealt with intersection takeovers, and vehicles drifting dangerously close to bystanders.

RELATED | New state bill seeks stiffer penalties, more law enforcement funding to combat illegal street racing

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State officials are hoping to crackdown on illegal street racing, and reckless driving, with new legislation aimed at increasing penalties for those involved in these activities.

Irwindale created a "burnout box" for drivers. It's an area surrounded by barricades where they can safely spin around in their vehicles.

"Unfortunately you see situations with the dangers of street racing, and intersection takeovers, and everything like that," said Will Kozak, of Irwindale Speedway and Events Center. "Here at Irwindale Dragstrip, we have both of those options in a safe and controlled environment

The weekly event at the dragstrip attracts crowds of spectators.

"It's really good to have a good place, you know. It avoids trouble, and you have fun. You have the same fun," said driver Jesus Gomez.

Gates for Thursday Night Thunder open at 4 p.m. with the track opening at 5 p.m. For more information, click here.

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