Street racing stereotypes irk Ottawa car enthusiasts

Ottawa car enthusiasts want racing to stay on the track and away from the streets, contrary to some beliefs they help fuel street racing crowds.

Street racing case leads to dangerous driving conviction but not street racing conviction

Car enthusiast Darren Burrowes says he and his friends don't street race, they go to the race track to put the pedal to the metal. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Ottawa car enthusiasts say they want racing to stay on the track after a 19-year-old Ottawa man was convicted of dangerous driving Wednesday in his friend's street racing death.

Kareem Alli was found guilty of dangerous driving causing death, but not guilty on charges of criminal negligence causing death and street racing, after his friend Christian (Sisco) Williams, 18, was killed in a June 2010 crash.

The death happened after the two drivers were racing each other down a residential road in south Ottawa.

Darren Burrowes, co-owner of the Initial Tuning car garage, says people should not assume all car enthusiasts are street racers.

The Ottawa man, whose business upgrades vehicle suspensions and does other custom work, believes the stereotype continues to haunt him and his friends who, he says, modify their cars for pleasure, not to endanger the public.

Kareem Alli, 19, was convicted of dangerous driving causing death, but found not guilty of criminal negligence after a fatal crash in June 2010. (CBC)

"When you use the words 'street racing' and then you use the words 'souped-up car' in the same story, it gives a look that people who drive souped-up cars are often the ones street racing," Burrowes told the CBC's Giacomo Panico.

"I can honestly say, from the work we do here, it's just not the case."

Car enthusiasts use track to satisfy need for speed

Burrowes said he and his friends go to a racetrack if they want to burn some rubber.

Police used to host events and escort a convoy of souped-up cars to a track. They also created awareness of the consequences of street racing.

"The event was terrific because what it did was it really quickly bridged the gap between misconceptions," he said.

Burrowes said police haven't held the events for a few years.

Police were not able to respond in time for this story.

Burrowes said there are similar events hosted privately, but he hopes the events run by police will be revived.

"Once you've done it in that type of environment, even if you've ever had the temptation of trying to do it on the street, you know, it takes it away actually," Burrowes said.