Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
Brian Brennan headshot
By Brian Brennan
Modern Rodding is changing our “issue number” system to be a consecutive numbering system. Starting with this issue, you will see a growing issue number that will carryover into each new year (in this issue #8, as this is the eighth issue of Modern Rodding) rather than the previous format (#5 to match the fifth month of May).
Time and Place typography

ll of us at some time or another have romped on the throttle and experienced an encounter with another hot rod on the street. It’s all fun and games and we considered it part and parcel of our youth, an integral part of growing up. At least that’s how we justified it. Times haven’t changed, it was as wrong and treacherous then as it is now.

Street racing has long been a rite of passage. All of us reading this editorial know of what I speak, regardless of its lack of social responsibility. Our hot rods are more powerful on the whole than the cars driven by the general public. What does all this mean? Our hot rods are like tools: The more proficient you become with a tool the more effectively (and safely) you should use it—and the results will be reflective. But that’s not what’s happening.

I know I have heard about street racing from back in the ’30s and ’40s from our earliest hot rod heroes. Bad things happened then and, regrettably, some were hurt who were nothing more than an innocent bystander. Here we are closing in on a century later and what happened then is occurring now. But with more forceful and significantly alarming results.

Our small towns, where street racing occurred on the outskirts of the city limits, have changed. The population of those small towns isn’t so small and the population of the big cities has grown bigger. The “wrong” part is still clear and present but the dangerous part has taken a quantum leap in the wrong direction. With much faster and quicker cars, more drivers participating, and more general public in harm’s way, street racing has become extremely more dangerous to so many more. What hasn’t changed is the significant dose of testosterone in quantities greater than the “gray matter” placed in charge. During my time on the street, I had firsthand knowledge of more than one friend who received a “speed contest” ticket of some sort.

Well, it’s time to revisit our thought pattern and see what the answer is we all come up with this time around. As rodders who have both the experience and the wisdom it’s our leadership and the “quiet” guidance we can give younger rodders who are doing what we did a number of decades back. Encourage them to enjoy the hobby but do so in a safe manner at organized tracks not on our streets.

It doesn’t take long to see or read the news or in some cases get caught up in what appears to be a growing trend in street racing. Street racing by definition, in my state of California (Vehicle Code 23109(a)) is known as a “speed contest.” To be found guilty, the prosecutors will need to prove four elements: you were a participant, it took place on a public road (highway), you were willfully engaged, and the race was against another motorist or a clock. If found guilty of this here’s what you have to look forward to: county jail between 24 hours and 90 days, a fine of $355 to $1,000, 40 hours of community service, suspension of your driver’s license for a period of time between 90 days and six months, and impoundment of your car for up to 30 days (and that carries with it additional high costs). All for racing on the street. It should be noted if anyone is injured or worse during this activity it gets very, very bad and very quickly and your life will be changed forever!

During this past year in which all of our lives were significantly disrupted the California Highway Patrol during one month issued 2,493 tickets throughout the state for speeding—in excess of 100 mph. This was almost double what was written the year before. There was one driver who was arrested after driving 165 mph on the freeway near my home. A staggering speed for sure, but I travel this road frequently and I cannot even begin to imagine when it could have been done when there wasn’t significant traffic.

Racing of any kind is best kept at tracks that are designed for this activity. It really is about keeping all of us, rodders and non-rodders alike, safe and out of harm’s way. There’s a time and place.

Photo Courtesy of John Winter
Modern Rodding
VOLUME 2 • ISSUE 8 • 2021