County may groove concrete to stop illegal racing

Published 8:36 am Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Vehicle racing in the more rural areas of Panola County is endangering citizens and damaging roads, supervisors heard at their regular meeting Monday at the Sardis Courthouse. 

Sheriff Shane Phelps reported that deputies made one arrest recently when they came upon racing cars, but said deputies are usually patrolling other areas when drivers meet at places in the county where long stretches of road are available for racing.

“We were able to stop one last week and have his car towed and charges entered, but the other one took off and we aren’t going to chase them,” Phelps said, referring to a policy he started soon after his election, citing the danger to officers and other drivers when high speed chases occur.

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Ballentine, Bethlehem, and Curtis roads are just a few of the places that generate the racing complaints. Also, the offending drivers prefer to find places with concrete bridges because they use the concrete portion to start the races. This is done because they pour accelerant on the car tires, light them, and spin away with the super heated tires for maximum grip on the asphalt or slag portion of roads.

Supervisors discussed the possibility of putting a thin layer of tar and slag rock on the concrete bridges, but nixed that idea when it was pointed out the Mississippi Department of Transportation, which inspects county bridges, would never approve of that action.

Instead, it was decided, the county will ask the state for permission to cut grooves into the concrete bridges which would disrupt the racers’ ability to heat their tires on the smooth concrete, and perhaps discourage the illegal racing.