This evening, several area mayors will hit the track at Texas Motor Speedway for Friday Night Drags, a competition to raise awareness about drag racing.
The race began in 2009 to assist in curtailing illegal street racing in North Texas by providing a safer alternative at the speedway, according to a spokesman.
Today’s event begins at 4:45 p.m. on pit lane at the speedway. Event sponsor Scion provides the racing vehicles for the competition.
Spectator entry is $7 at Gate 6, and parking is free outside Gate 6 or $20 for infield parking.
“It will be very exciting and my first time competing,” Justin Mayor Greg Scott said.
Other competitors include mayors Peggy Krueger of Argyle, Scooter Gierisch of Roanoke, John Terrell of Southlake, Connie White of Trophy Club and Maher Maso of Frisco, as well as Carrollton Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Falconer.
Two of tonight’s competitors, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, competed in the inaugural event in 2011. Van Duyne walked away as the winner after the best-of-three competition.
Tonight’s contest for the Mayor’s Cup features the largest turnout of officeholders so far, officials said. The 2012 Mayor’s Cup included six area mayors, and Southlake’s Terrell earned the crown.
Scott isn’t expecting to win. But he said he’s looking to have a good time while raising awareness about illegal drag racing.
“I don’t think it’s really a problem in Justin, but it happens in the county,” he said. “Winning just gives you bragging rights over the other mayors.”
In recent years, some mayors have placed friendly wagers on the races, such as losers having to buy dinner.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 16 and 20.
An average of 135 people are killed each year in car crashes related to illegal street racing, according to the agency.
In Denton County, 40 people died in 2012 as a result of injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents, according to Texas Department of Transportation data, and more than 1,200 speed-related accidents happened between 2010 and 2012.
During a six-week span in 2011-12, two North Texans were killed as a result of drag racing, according to a NHTSA report. On New Year’s Day 2012, 43-year-old Elias Silva-Gonzales was killed when his vehicle was struck by one of two cars drag racing in Dallas. In November 2011, 16-year-old Colin Stone died after losing control of his BMW as he reached speeds of 100 mph while street racing on Dallas’ Northwest Highway.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.