Cars Confiscated In Crackdown On Notorious Area Drag Strip
By Charles Rogers
Twenty years after a horrible crash killed the teenage driver of a car doing 90 miles per hour on a strip of road on Fountain Avenue at Flatlands Avenue, police are still trying to put a stop to illegal drag racing there.
Police last week arrested racers, seized and impounded cars and even issued summonses to spectators in a major crackdown called Operation Dragnet, targeting some areas in The Bronx and the Fountain Avenue location in East New York.
"If drag racing has been considered a tradition in New York City, that tradition is over," Inspector Richard Graf told reporters in a press conference. Sources said over 300 summonses were issued over a three-week period for infractions ranging from suspended licenses to urinating on the street.
The relatively desolate Fountain Avenue site has been a drag racing section for more than 40 years. In an exclusive article in the Canarsie Courier in September, 1984, the mother of a youth who was killed in a crash while allegedly drag racing at 90 miles per hour pleaded that the newspaper show a photo of the car after the crash, wrapped around a telephone pole.
"Run the picture," said Mrs. Ann Minkoff, mother of Steven, 19, who was killed in the September 15 crash. "Please run it. I want others to see it. I want my son’s death to have some reason.
"Maybe another boy or girl will see it and it will stop them — and my son will not have died in vain."
The distraught mother cited reports that her son’s car was traveling so fast that it went out of control, slammed into a fire hydrant and flew about ten yards into a phone pole. Reports indicated there were marks a few feet above where the car rested showing that it hit the pole while it was still in the air.
As a result of the article and Mrs. Minkoff’s plea, community members complained to police and elected officials about the drag strip. One woman, who asked to remain anonymous at the time, said she and her friends used to drag race on the strip "over 20 years ago." That would have been 1964.
"Over 20 years and the drag strip still remains," she said at the time. "We close our eyes and turn our backs and see what happens."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the New York Post, "We are now applying our own Formula One: Arrests plus forfeited cars equals safer streets."