By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN
MARTINEZ, Calif. – California Highway Patrol has impounded 17 vehicles, mostly sports cars, and has cited their drivers after officers converged on a “sideshow” late Saturday near Franklin Canyon Golf Course west of Martinez, CHP Officer John Fransen said.
“Sideshows” is a term for informal demonstrations of automotive stunts. Oakland is considered the birthplace of the sideshow, but Fransen said such gatherings have spread throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Officers cited the drivers, most of whom were young men from neighboring cities, for speed contest participation and took custody of the cars, some of which were Mustangs and Camaros, Fransen said.
A CHP officer driving on California State Highway 4 about 11:55 p.m. Saturday spotted what appeared to be a sideshow gathering of drivers doing burnouts, spins and doughnuts in the parking area near the golf course.
He called for other patrol cars as backup, Fransen said. The parking area’s design made it easier for patrol cars to block the exit, he said.
Fransen said he has no estimate of the amount the drivers may have to pay, but said, “It’s going to be pricey.” The highway patrol put a 30-day hold on each of the cars, and the owners of the cars must pay for the pickup of the car sand the daily costs of storage, in addition to any fines from the citations.
He said others driving on Highway 4 weren’t endangered by this sideshow, but that’s not always the case, Fransen said.
“The main concern is we don’t want sideshows conducted anywhere. People die – drivers and spectators,” he said. Also killed or injured are unsuspecting motorists who may get caught up in a sideshow that’s being performed on a public roadway.
“There have been videos that have gone viral,” he said, “including those on the Golden Gate Bridge.” He said some drivers started a sideshow to show off in front of tourists on the bridge’s walkways.
Between Antioch and Pittsburg, motorists on Highway 4 can see the dark circles on the pavement where sideshow drivers have made doughnuts, “putting a lot of people’s lives at risk,” he said. “It’s dangerous for the unsuspecting motorist, the drivers and the spectators who line up to see them.”
Fransen said anyone seeing a sideshow should report it by calling 9-1-1.