Watching a street race in Fort Worth is now a crime. Violators may have to pay

Luke Ranker
·2 min read

Fans of illicit street racing in Fort Worth could face a fine of up to $500 for watching or aiding the races.

The Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance making it illegal to gather for street racing events or to support them through the use of private property. The Texas Transportation Code already makes street racing and reckless driving illegal, but no state statute prohibits the gathering of spectators.

Police Chief Neil Noakes, during a briefing earlier this month, called the ordinance “a great tool” for the department to crack down on street racing. It comes as a response to a rash of deaths last year in crashes related to illegal races.

While the misdemeanor charge and fine up to $500 may deter some from attending the races in the first place, Noakes said it would also enable officers to track down participants and issue tickets after the race. The department plans to identify spectators through social media posts and security camera footage, he said.

“Prior to this, we would just try and chase down the racers or chase down the participants, but getting the spectators, that’s what really drives this event,” Noakes said at a briefing last week. “If we can curb some of the spectators we can curb some of these racing events.”

Since November 2019, Fort Worth police have fielded more than 2,500 calls related to street racing or reckless driving exhibitions, according to a city memo.

Ben and Meg Arbour, both 39, died last November after their car was hit by a street racer in southwest Fort Worth. The driver, Marcus D. Bell, 19, also died. Days after that fatal crash, a petition with more than 1,800 signatures was circulated by residents who wanted Fort Worth city officials and police to address a ”rampant problem of illegal street racing.”

Dallas police have established a street racing task force to crack down on the often dangerous sport. In February, 33 people were arrested and six guns were seized during a weekend. Dallas police made more than 200 traffic stops and issued 181 traffic citations that weekend.

During the discussion last week council member Gyna Bivens asked Noakes to look into a similar program in Fort Worth, noting the numerous arrests.

“The last thing I want to see is those Dallas people coming over here because we are perceived to be more lenient,” she said.