See more of the story

Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


Street racing is dangerous, even potentially deadly. It also degrades neighborhoods and diverts badly needed law-enforcement officers and resources from other needs, including emergencies. And perhaps most profoundly, street racing is another lawless behavior that threatens public safety in Minnesota.

So credit is due to the individuals and communities fighting back. That includes Blaine, which this month passed an ordinance making it not just illegal for two or more cars to race, but permits police to give citations to those who gather to watch.

"We have not had a good tool to manage it," Blaine Police Chief Brian Podany told the Star Tribune. "This gives us a tool to do that."

More metro communities need this tool, which Blaine based on a Fort Worth, Texas, law. And Blaine and other Minnesota cities would benefit from the Legislature and governor doing more.

An effort to do so stalled during the last session when the state Senate failed to advance a bill that would have made it a misdemeanor to take part in a street race, squeal tires, or obstruct traffic while performing so-called "burnouts" in intersections.

Passing such a bill shouldn't be difficult. There is no natural political constituency for street racing. Every commonsense adult knows it is a tragedy waiting to happen, either with a racing vehicle or associated illegal activity. A 19-year-old spectator was killed by stray bullets in northeast Minneapolis last year, and the same weekend, a 17-year-old was also killed. In a separate incident, another shooting — thankfully not fatal — took place at a race in Blaine.

As roads emptied during the early months of the pandemic, street racing took hold locally and nationwide. Hundreds of racers have been known to gather at "meetups" after word of the events circulates on social media, with drivers taking over streets, intersections and parking lots. Guns and fireworks often add to the danger of high-speed and reckless driving.

There is a broader effort underway to curtail street racing in Minnesota. Some municipalities are working with the State Patrol, and some cities have built speed bumps or closed roads. At times even owners of private parking lots have had to make costly upgrades to deter would-be racers.

Legislative leaders and whoever is elected governor in November may be looking for an early, bipartisan success after a bruising election season. Taking on street racing would be a worthwhile target.

Just as Blaine looked at a red-state model in adapting Fort Worth's ordinance, those gathering in St. Paul early next year can see blue-state successes in California — where Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation addressing street racing, street takeovers and sideshows in parking lots — as well as in New York, where Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill that will allow New York City to operate cameras to help police nab street racers.

If states as politically disparate as California, New York and Texas can make progress on curtailing street racing, a legislative fix can happen in Minnesota, too.