Springfield mayor, business owners call for an end to illegal drag racing

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Law and order, that’s what Mayor Domenic Sarno and business owners told us they want in the city to combat the drag racing.

Tensions between police and drag racers peaked during that altercation, Mayor Sarno says that one drag racer even drove straight at a police officer. He told 22News, “You get to the drag racers they are just disrespectful and they have a sense of lawlessness.”

Springfield police have recently made 26 arrests, issued 87 motor vehicle citations, and gave out more than 30 ordinance violations for drag racing. Mayor Sarno told 22News that these street races could cause serious harm to citizens and local businesses.

“Innocent individuals or businesses could be hurt, or harmed, or destroyed. But they could be hurt, or harmed or worse,” said Sarno.

Mayor Sarno wants the courts to back up the arrests with potential jail time. The mayor says drag racing started in the north end but racers migrated to the South End. Antonio’s restaurant is typically a quiet lunch spot in Springfield but the owners tell us hundreds of people gather in their parking lot to get ready to illegally drag race around the city.

Antonio’s Owner, Pamela Vatrano, told 22News that the drag racer’s that gather refuse to leave when asked.

“We’ve even tried to go out there and ask them to move and they’re rude. They don’t care they just don’t care. It’s not safe and it’s not right,” said Vatrano.

Antonio’s in Springfield showed us the video of crowds cars in their parking lot, mainly on Friday and Saturday nights. Restaurant employees like Marie Manard say she’s worried about the crowds, with many people not wearing masks, causing a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Manard told 22News, “We’re actually trying to provide some normalcy to the community because people are so used to coming here and eating. So let us open.”

They say the racers are Blocking employees from safely leaving the restaurant or even customers from coming inside to order food. Antonio’s said they want police protection every Friday and Saturday night to stop the crowds.

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