Former Richmond street racer still ashamed

Tearing along the road in his modified Honda Civic, 17-year-old Danny didn't give a second thought for anyone bar himself.

And when he eyeballed the driver of a similarly souped-up Subaru, the Richmond teenager had no hesitation in slamming his foot to the floor and engaging in a deadly street race.

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Seconds later, at a speed of around 160 kilometres per hour, Danny's Civic suffered a blowout.

Fishtailing and completely out of control, the reckless youngster's car flipped over until it came to a stop, upside down.

Incredibly, he got out of the car and walked away without as much of a scratch.

"I was very lucky. I came out totally unscathed. I didn't have a mark on me," said the driver, who would only identify himself as Danny.

"But because I wasn't injured, I thought I was invincible. At that age, what didn't kill me, just made me more obnoxious."

Fast forward more than ten years and Danny, now 28, shakes his head when he looks back at his selfishness and sheer "stupidity" of years of street racing.

To this day, he still doesn't know why he stepped into the dangerous world of racing cars through residential streets.

"A lack of good common sense I guess. I'd like to say someone pushed me into it, but they didn't. I just wanted to do it," he told the News.

"I admit, it was exhilarating, especially not getting caught. I had a lot of attitude and bravado."

Danny was talking after stepping up to help raise awareness for the Resist the Race (RTR) anti-street racing initiative.

RTR - formed by RCMP Sgt. Rob Quilley after his colleague Const. Jimmy Ng was killed in a street race crash while on duty in Richmond years ago - is a program that works to help youth understand the consequences of street racing.

Mini Richmond, a major partner in the program and provides a luxury sports car for publicity events, hosted an awareness day Tuesday, at which Danny spoke to people about his experiences as a former street racer.

Danny said he was asked to get involved after spotting RTR's call for volunteers on a car enthusiast website.

"I fix them, I modify them. Cars engulf my life basically," Danny admitted.

Looking back on his early years as a street racer, Danny used a Honda Civic, owned by his parents, but which he had modified.

"It was my first year of driving and I only had a learner's licence, so I wasn't even supposed to be out there.

"(Street racing) continued until I was around 19.

I had moved out of my parents' house and I simply couldn't afford a car, so that was it."

He was 22 before he had a car again. But it wasn't long before he ended up going back to "the street," this time with a heavily modified Chevy coupe.

"I missed the rush and my stupidity was still there," he said.

"I did it mostly in Richmond and Vancouver.

Everyone knew that, if you wanted a race, you went to Richmond."

It was to take another few years before the light dawned on Danny's dark addiction to street racing.

"I got busted. That's all it took. I was racing in West Van and I got chased down by the police and got caught," he said.

"I got charged with excessive speeding and ended up paying around $1,000 in a fine.

"And right around that point, the economy went down and I got laid off. I then had lots of time to think about my life."

Now a wheel-spin or two away from his 30th year, Danny's "embarrassment" at his former life is still fresh and at the forefront of his mind - not least after watching on the news the recent antics of the Richmond teens who raced down Highway 99 in their parents' luxury sports cars.

"I shook my head when I saw that," he said.

"Richmond was always a playground for that kind of thing though.

"I was ashamed when I watched them. If I thought more about my future back then, I would have realized that it can affect the direction of your life. They need to stop and think."

Danny still has a seriously modified car and he's still involved in racing - but legally.

"I go to the racetrack at Mission. That's where I get my kicks now."

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