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Long Island

Street Racer: The culture of speed on Long Island

For two years, Newsday has followed and filmed various Long Island drag racers. While some practice the sport legally, there exists a sub-culture of racers who do not. The consequences of those illegal street races have, at times, led to tragedy. For decades, there were three sanctioned drag strips on Long Island. But each has been shuttered, leaving many in the film to wonder, if Long Island still had a legal drag strip, would that curtail the amount of illegal racing? (Newsday staff)

On Mother’s Day weekend in 2014, an illegal street race on Conklin Street in Farmingdale ended in a crash that took the lives of five Long Island teenagers.

Soon after, Newsday began filming “Street Racer,” a documentary about illegal street racing and the culture of speed on Long Island. In the video, filmed over two years, Long Islanders directly affected by the fervent racing scene in Nassau and Suffolk counties share their stories.

Blake Slade was 19 in 2002 when he drove his Mercedes-Benz in excess of 110 mph before a crash that killed a young couple about to be married. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison for his role in the crash and served 2 1/2 years before being released in 2007.

“I hope that carrying the burden of someone’s death isn’t a burden that’s too heavy for him,” said Sherley Bretous-Carre, sister of one of the victims.

But the burden is heavy for Slade, now 33. He says he still grieves for his victims, revealing a tattoo on his back of a gravestone carved with S.B. and J.D., initials of crash victims Sophia Bretous and her fiance Jean Desir.

The documentary also tells the stories of police who arrive in the aftermath of such crashes and must tell families of their loved ones’ deaths; amateur drag racers from Long Island who must travel out of state to race; and illegal street racers who organize contests that draw crowds of adrenaline junkies.

And “Street Racer” asks this question: Would bringing back a sanctioned drag strip on Long Island reduce the number of illegal street racers?

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