As the sun set on the high desert we drove into the distance without a soul in sight, just a lonely road cut through an expansive landscape. Then, nearly 50 miles outside the nearest town the road rolled through an arbitrarily placed intersection–the remains of an ill-fated oasis that died on the vine. For most it’s now an intersecting grid to nowhere, but to a select group of gearheads this road leads to destiny, a place where everything is won or lost in a matter of seconds–this is known in the underground world of street racing as, “the spot.”
The desolate stretch of pavement, void of life only moments before, was now lined with a handful of trailers carrying racecars and dragbikes. A dozen people were milling about, some walking the starting line, others inspecting their vehicles.
The underlying energy slowly intensified as the last ounces of daylight faded into the night sky. Aside from the sound of spinning wrenches and low murmurs, it was all but silent–nobody was there to make friends.
As the moon began its ascent into the night’s sky the weather grew cold and blustery, typical for “the spot.” The layers of molten rubber adhered to the pavement glimmered under the glow of the moon and the wisps of clouds cast an unsettling backdrop indicative of the lawless acts that would soon follow.
Countless burnouts and endless amounts of VHT (a liquid that’s applied to the tires for better traction) tattooed the street for the first 50 feet of the track. The tarmac was so sticky it would easily remove a shoe from anyone who accidentally stepped in the black goo.
While the rest of the population is fast asleep, there’s an underground world of racers who take to the streets and risk life, limb, fortune and jail time in hopes of gaining enough race cred to be crowned, the “King of the Street.” Tonight wasn’t a friendly light-to-light street race, but a high-stakes battle between two vehicles with $10,000 on the line. This was as real as it gets and SSB went deep inside the world of street racing to see if a new king was to be crowned.
02.13.12, 7:02 PM Meet Shorty
Shorty’s ZX-14 has an under-seat...
Shorty’s ZX-14 has an under-seat tank that holds just a few ounces of VP race gas to keep weight at a minimum.
Although our day in the life of a street racer started a few minutes past 6:00 PM on a winter day, the task of permeating the underground community began months earlier. During an Internet binge the SSB staff stumbled on some videos of fast cars and trucks racing a drag-prepped Kawasaki ZX-14. Oftentimes the Kawi took an easy victory, but in some cases it was only by a nose. In astonishment we felt it was our duty to uncover the full story. After many broken leads we finally made contact with the midnight man, a rider known as “Shorty,” who was only seen in black leathers aboard a murdered-out ZX-14. Was it true that even a mildly-modded sportbike couldn’t hang on the street? Was a prepped drag beast really necessary to run with the big dogs? We weren’t sure, but after months of tracking down the illustrious street racer we finally got the chance to meet him at “the spot.”
Despite our apprehensions, Shorty was just like most gearheads, a down-to-earth adrenaline junkie who differed from the norm only because he was willing to risk it all for a win.
“I’ve been street racing for over 15 years and made more than 150 passes out here, it’s been one crazy ride and there’s nothing like it,” Shorty said.
Riders burnout in a sticky...
Riders burnout in a sticky solution called VHT, which adds tremendous amounts of traction to an otherwise standard street.
Throughout his many years in the streets he’s seen some crazy crashes and even hit the pavement himself.
“I’ve witnessed a few cars roll many times, but thankfully the drivers were always OK,” Shorty said. “Due to some bad weather one night I low-sided after riding through my burnout, thankfully I didn’t get hurt.”
But more than just mechanical mayhem, Shorty went onto explain that he’s seen many heated arguments explode into a brawl and in some cases, guns were drawn.