In east Fort Worth, the roar of souped up cars, screeching rubber on pavement and cheering crowds watching spin-outs on John T. White Road has neighbors begging the city and police for help.
Street racing has been a problem in the area for years, but recently cars have taken over intersections and spectators have blocked streets as cars do doughnuts or spin-outs, neighbors said. Dave Fulson, one of the directors for the John T. White Neighborhood Association, said that though he lives 400 yards from the Cooks Lane intersection where sliding is rampant, the noise sounds like it’s 50 yards from the front door.
And the neighborhood association has had enough. Its members are demanding a solution and hope the problem will end soon with help from the city and police department.
The Texas Transportation Code outlaws street racing and spectators in Fort Worth can now be fined up to $500 after the City Council passed an ordinance in April 2021. The change came after a couple and the racing driver who hit them died in an accident in November 2020.
In Arlington, a man was killed and his passenger injured in January when his car was hit by a car racing another at 80 mph in a 45 mph zone.
Over in Dallas, police have formed a street racing task force to address the issue.
Fulson said racing is a constant but ramps up at night. The sliding, he said, happens at around five intersections down the stretch of road.
Drivers and spectators block the intersections to form a makeshift arena. Then, the cars in the center start to spin, some with passengers hanging out of the windows. Others run around the cars. Sometimes it’s large groups; other times only a few people are involved.
“It is the very definition of dangerous,” Fulson said, recalling an incident he witnessed within the past two weeks in which a crowd of 75 gathered.
Even on a calm Monday when traffic was scant and there were no racers in sight, the proof of what’s become a regularity lingered. Where John T. White meets with Cooks Lane just off Interstate 30, black tire marks are burned into the road in whorls.
“They have absolutely no concern for, you know, the area,” Fulson said. “They have no concern for the citizens. They certainly have no concern for their own safety or safety of others. And it is really becoming a dangerous blight over on the east side.”
James Hook, vice president for the neighborhood association, said the crowds are blocking access for emergency vehicles.
“When they do this, you can’t get through the intersection,” he said. “You know people are just pretty much stopped. They block the roads in all directions.”
As drivers exit the interstate and make a left to find the road, they’ll find land largely untouched by the area’s fast growth. Fulson thinks the neighborhood is a hotbed for such activity because of the rural nature of the area, a small police presence and lax enforcement compared to Dallas and Arlington.
Fulson said the police flash their lights and activate their sirens to break up the crowds. He wants to see arrests made and cars impounded. If arrests start happening, he said, word is bound to get around and the issue will stop.
The neighborhood police officer couldn’t be reached for comment, and a representative with the Fort Worth Police Department directed phone questions to the department’s media email. The department did not immediately responded to the email.
The association wants a roundabout that would keep traffic flowing and eliminate the ability to do tricks. It’s something council member Gyna Bivens, who represents the area, thinks will work, and she said she’s waiting to hear back from the city’s streets director about the neighborhood’s proposed solution. Bivens also wants to loop in Crimestoppers so people who take down license tags can get rewards.
“People don’t really like stepping up, but when it comes to John T. White, those people are not intimidated at all,” Bivens said.
William Johnson, the city’s transportation and public works director, said that the John T. White and Cooks intersection is one of the targets in the city’s 2022 road bond package. Design work for the road hasn’t begun, but Johnson said the city would study the intersection to determine the best solution for the area, whether that’s a roundabout or signals.
Katina Gifford, who has lived in nearby neighborhood Hidden Meadows since 2013, had no idea the racing was happening, but said the intersection has been always dangerous. Drivers treat it as a free-for-all, she said, and no one pays attention. Despite improvements, she said it still feels dangerous.
Another neighbor said she would be front and center for any meeting called on the issue.
“Why do we want that junk out there?” she said.
Fulson said a meeting will happen soon with Bivens and the neighborhood police officer to address concerns and stop the racing and sliding, issues he believes could turn catastrophic.
“Somebody is going to get killed doing this, and it’s probably going to be sooner than later,” Fulson said.