By Ed Brock
In the Anvil Block Road area of Rex, racing is a matter of pride.
"We race bikes and all. We got the fastest street cars in Clayton County," said Mark Scott, known on the street as "Apple Head." "We run nitrous and everything."
With the movie "2 Fast, 2 Furious," John Singleton's movie about drag racing in Miami, at number three at the box office, the world of street car racing is in the public eye. Scott, who lives in Rex and didn't specify the nature of his involvement in street racing, said the owners of the modified Chevrolet Impalas, Monte Carlos and other vehicles don't race because of a movie.
They race for fun.
"You ever had a dream?" Scott asks, standing in the parking lot of a gas station on Anvil Block Road with some of his fellow racers. "You dreamed of owning a fast car, yeah?"
Sometimes the street racers are in it for pride, sometimes for money, Clayton County Detective Jon Antoine said.
"But the movie doesn't help at all," Antoine said. "Because they want to project it as a lifestyle, and it is not a lifestyle at all."
There's nothing new about the racing scene on Anvil Block and Grant roads, Antoine said. The racers prefer the area because the roads are wide and sparsely populated.
Periodically county police will write tickets in the area and, if they see someone racing, they charge them with a misdemeanor offense. Antoine said the charge could lead to impounding the driver's car and suspending their driver's license for 12 months.
Also, Antoine could not find any recent reports of accidents that may have been related to racing.
The only thing that's changed since he was patrolling the streets six years ago is the kind of cars.
At 2 or 3 a.m. there would be hundreds of mostly large cars racing in the area.
"Now it's all these little cars," Antoine said.
That's a change that Andy James, the head mechanic at Advanced Technology Motor Sports on Steele Road in Lovejoy, has also noticed since his high school days.
"Souped-up" Hondas and other imports have replaced the larger, V-8 engine driven cars, and with them a new crowd of people.
A lot of older guys just matured and realized how much they had to lose and got out of that," James said. "It's just a big adrenaline rush and some people, that's the only way to get it."
James and the other mechanics at Advanced Technology work mainly on cars for the track, like the Legends cars that run at Atlanta Motor Speedway during the summer. That's where James races, too.
It's safer for the racers and other motorists too.
"On the street you don't have the safety equipment, you don't have the safety rules," James said. "You don't wear a helmet, you don't have a fire suit ? probably half the guys don't wear seatbelts."
But Scott and his friends insist that what they do doesn't hurt anybody else and that racing is a good way to keep out of real trouble. The young people involved in working on the cars also learn a useful trade.
"It beats selling drugs," Scott said.