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Drag Racing Complaints Are Soaring in Sunnyside, Residents Fear Someone Will Get Killed

The group had a drone flying overhead filming the cars, according to O’Duibhir. The lights from the drone can be seen overhead. (Image via Antoin O’Duibhir)

Oct. 7, 2020 By Christian Murray and Michael Dorgan

Revved up engines, screeching tires and the din of loud music booming out of car windows are among the sounds that are waking up residents throughout Sunnyside late at night.

The noise stems from drag racers who have been tearing up and down the streets and avenues of Sunnyside late at night—often on their way to empty parking lots on 48th Street by Northern Boulevard to burn rubber with hundreds of onlookers.

“It’s been happening every weekend, and two or three random nights during the week,” said Monica Hall, a born and bred Sunnysider who lives on 49th Street by 39th Avenue. “It’s so loud my dogs hide behind the furniture.”

The complaints about drag racing have been piling up in the past two months, with the trouble spots including 39th Avenue, Skillman Avenue, 43rd Avenue as well as 43rd and 48th Streets.

There have been 32 complaints about drag racing in the 11101 and 11104 ZIP codes from Sept.1 through Oct. 5, according to 311 data analyzed by the Queens Post.  For the same period last year, there were just two for those zip codes.

The data also shows that 25 of 32 complaints concern incidents in Sunnyside Gardens and in the Long Island City area near the Home Depot parking by Northern Boulevard, a popular venue for drag racers.

Antoin O’Duibhir, who lives on 39th Avenue by 48th Street, said that the noise has become too much. He says that many of the drag racers tear up local streets with their souped-up cars and then go down to the Home Depot parking lot.

“It’s been going on for weeks,” O’Duibhir said. “It’s like shotguns going off out the back of them. You hear these big pops going off.”

O’Duibhir, fed up by what’s been going on, did some investigative work and checked out what was happening at the Home Depot parking lot on Saturday night.

“I went down there at midnight and there were crowds and crowds of people,” he said. “I would say 500 people and lots of cars too.”

He said that he was stunned by the number of attendees and how organized it was. He said there was even drone capturing footage of the event.

“They have nice cars, souped-up Mercedes and BMWs,” he said. “All have nice wheels, mufflers and dark windows.”

The cars take turns ripping donuts, he said. In one instance, which he recorded, the driver was doing a spin while a passenger was hanging out the car window trying to get the crowd to cheer him on.

“It’s dangerous,” he said, adding that someone will get killed. He said the vehicles spin so close to the spectators.

 

O’Duibhir said that he noticed that many of the vehicles coming in and out of the parking lot are going at a great rate of speed.

The problem of drag racing is not just confined to these events but it has become a major problem across the area, residents say.

“It’s become very pervasive,” said Lisa Deller, chair of Community Board 2. She said that the board has received numerous complaints from Sunnyside Gardens residents about noise on local streets as well as noise from the former National Wholesale Liquidators parking lot on 48th Street.

“This is a new problem that everybody is talking about,” she said. “It has never been like this before.”

Kristen McGowan, a resident of Sunnyside Gardens, said she sees drag racers going up and down 43rd Street where she lives. She said that she saw about 60 cars, with music blasting between Barnett Avenue and Northern Boulevard on 43rd Street a few weeks ago.

“They have these pop-up parties and then drag race and do donuts,” McGowan said. “It’s noisy and disturbing and extremely dangerous.”

Diane Ballek, who is the president of the 108 police precinct community council, said that the problem is throughout the district, including on the south side of Queens Boulevard.

“It’s happening everywhere and we would need an army to stop it,” she said. She said hotspots also include 43rd Street between 50th Avenue and the Queens Midtown Expressway and on Review Avenue between 37th Street and Laurel Hill Boulevard.

 

Ballek said the drag racing problem is taking place within the confines of the 108th and 114th Precincts.

For instance, the Home Depot and the National Wholesale Liquidators parking lots are part of the 114th Precinct. The 108 precinct, which covers Sunnyside Gardens, ends on 48th street just north of Barnett Avenue.

The police, in a statement, said they recognize the problem and both precinct heads are working to rectify it.

“The Commanding Officers are aware of the condition at the location and are working with community partners to address it. Precinct personnel will continue conduct patrols in order to correct it.”

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, a resident of Sunnyside Gardens, did not respond for comment.

Home Depot also did not respond to the Queens Post for comment before the time of publication.

Hall, however, said it “blows her mind” how nothing has been done about the issue to date.

“It’s really loud, insanely loud,” she said. But most worrying, Hall added, “Someone is going to die.”

311 Complaints about drag racing in the 11101 and 11104 ZIP codes since Sept. 1 (Source: 311)

 

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26 Comments

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Gina James

That is Because Jimmy Van Bramer voted in De-Funding the Police…

“Several Queens Council members, including Costa Constantinides, Jimmy Van Bramer and Antonio Reynoso, have been vocal about their support of the $1 billion cut of the NYPD, while Councilman Robert Holden has said he doesn’t support the calls altogether.”

GOOGLE IT!

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A Normal Person

💯
They weren’t defunded, so I don’t see what their issue is. Out of 10.2 billion they had 420-450 million cut.
If I was at work and didn’t do my job I wouldn’t get paid, whether or not I was disrespected. They aren’t volunteers.

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Gina james

You forgot Deblasio and Cuomo allowing all the riots, shutdowns, and de-funding of the police.. does that matter to you?

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Gina James

It is not only the Dragracers.. its also the incredibly loud Zumba Music coming from 52nd Street park Basketball courts every single evening w/ no permit.. they are taking advantage of the Police not doing anything and being completely lawless .. the Sunnyside & Woodside residents have had enough!!

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Weasel

I’ve called several times after witnessing incidents on 40st and 47Ave Greenpoint Ave Greenpoint Ave bet 48ave and 41st and QUEENS BLVD bet 43 46st

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Sam Rearick

Community Board 1 knows about this but it doesn’t involve Ditmars so they don’t care. This is also within hearing distance of Mr Van Bramer’s House but does not involve a career move so there is no interest. These guys know that there are growing patches in our city that are in the Twilight Zone where anything goes and no one cares.

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Robert Kelshaw

They are not Drag Racers they are street racers,Drag Racers do it on a sanctioned track street racers do it on community streets.GET IT RIGHT PLEASE

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Woodside guy

No show Jimmy unless its a photo op, something simple like walking over a bridge or anti-community activism. Jimmy hates to actually work and build. Jimmy wants chaos and wants regular people to be uncomfortable. Don’t ever doubt that Jimmy is mostly against you if you are a responsible taxpayer.

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KJ

If this has been going on for months, why hasn’t the NYPD, our elected officials and our community representatives tackled this problem? Aren’t gatherings of a few hundred people outlawed. How about airborne drones in public spaces. Isn’t that outlawed too? So disheartening that our officials are turning a blind eye. I wonder who’s making a buck off of this. Sounds very organized to me.

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Randy Goodwin

Drag racing is done at the race track during sanctioned events, ie NHRA Championship Drag Racing. This is illegal street racing. Not to be confused.

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Ken

Don’t expect Van Bramer to do a damn thing. If he isn’t able to fill his pockets with money he could care less.

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Anonymous

The police are doing absolutely nothing to help. They move the cars along, as if they are their friends. No tickets ever.

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Michael

It would be interesting to review 911 calls too. I called 911 this past Sunday evening to report drag racers on 43rd Street near Skillman. The operator said they had already received several complaints. And the police showed up a short time after.

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MK

>“It’s happening everywhere and we would need an army to stop it,” said Diane Ballek, who is the president of the 108 police precinct community council…
>“The Commanding Officers are aware of the condition at the location and are working with community partners to address it. Precinct personnel will continue conduct patrols in order to correct it.”

Oh, really? And how’s correction going? Just install SPEED BUMPS. Like every other city that had this problem. That’s it.

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The name's TANK! PASS!

The rise of the Vin Diesel fetish is one of the worst things about 2020. Measuring your self worth with consumerism and sitting on your bum while pressing down a bit more on a gas pedal is one thing, but these clowns are taking other people’s lives as collateral on borrowed time.

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Pam

We live on 43rd Street near 48th Avenue. This has been going on almost every weekend for about 2 months. Ten to twenty cars will race along the street often side by side on 43rd Street. They also stop in the intersection and do donuts. It is very loud and dangerous. I hope something can be done to put a stop to this before people are hurt or killed.

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EH

This has been going on for several years at the other Home Depot parking lot.. 11370 ..115th precinct. The latest last Saturday was at 3:00 a.m. and the scene looked just like these videos..it is a nightmare.

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Frank Serpico

It could also be said that this mess is brought to you by the Do-Nothing NYPD, specifically the 108th. The NYPD ‘work slow down’ is partially responsible for the uptick in crime and quality of life issues. Wah wah, their feelings are hurt because they got called out for decades of violating people’s rights. Instead of working to root out the bad cops, they instead chose the path of doing less work to show how much they are needed. Defund the Police would be a reallocation of $ to actually free them up to fight crime. No cop wants to be a social worker, psychiatrist, mental health expert, etc. Hire more of those people to help de-escalate situations, that in the past have lead to deadly encounters by cops. In the meantime, Do Your Job.

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JaimeB

These are the sounds of liberal paradise, brought to you by the likes of Jimmy van Bramer. You truly get what you vote for.

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Anonymous

Jimmy Van Bramer’s job is not to give people tickets for speeding. When it is, then you can complain about his performance here. The police are doing absolutely nothing to help. They drive by casually to move the cars along, as if they are their friends. No tickets ever.

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