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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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82 Comments

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David Malmut

I lived on 46th street between Skillman and 43 Ave…I had a. 55 Chevy with 3 deuces,stick shift. We raced Plymouth Fury’s Ford Crown Victoria’s.
We didn’t race on streets or
Avenues. We went to what we called the connections or Connecting Highway.This was in the 1950s.

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Anca Drago

this is insane and unsafe. One of them lost control and they crashed into our home gate and left they front bumper in our yard and left! some will be killed soon if elected officials and the police dont take action!

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Little JVB

I heard about the drag racing and went to investigate. All I found was a bunch of people in speeding cars. What a disappointment.

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Maria

I really can’t believe NYPD is not doing something about this. Does DiBlasio or Cuomo know these folks are definitely not social distancing. This is unbelievable. I hear them from my apt at night. I’ve wanted to go out and see where it’s coming from but I’m not leaving my apt alone at midnight to check. I’m glad Mr. Oduibhur got it on video. Thank sir.

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Your Car is Crying

these are the lowest of bottom feeders. why punish everybody with more speed humps? those things are absolutely
TERRIBLE for any car…hell for the suspension. For that
matter, why activate more surveillence on Queens blvd, as politicians want, when the problem is in parking lots on
Norther Blvd!? How does that make sense?

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A: that's illegal.

And B it’s the intersections of where this BS is happening.

Not even complete addresses.

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Sunnyside

I guess no one here knows what drag racing is . They are not drag racing they are doing donuts . Big deal

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Mac

It is a big deal when you’re trying to sleep. It is a big deal when you have a heart condition. It is a big deal because it’s against the law.

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Mac

Sunnyside- If you can’t follow the law you best move to the Forest because prison is where you will ultimately end up. Without people like me to pay taxes you wouldn’t have roads to spin your silly car around on.,

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Dietmar Detering

Yeah, we are all suffering. JVB is, too. And the concern for public safety is serious. But has anyone actually talked to the organizers, participants, and spectators as to what is “driving” them? I guess not. We have to assume that this is just SOMETHING they can still do to get some socializing and entertainment. Remember? Clubs and bars are still closed, since March. We are over eight million people, and some of them are stuffed with hormones and don’t have children to tuck in at 9pm on Friday and Saturday night. How can this be addressed by a show of (brute) Police force in a way that is not simply turning this into a game of whack-a-mole? Arrest them all? Hand out expensive summonses on every infraction? Just asking… Also, I am hoping that this problem will go away as the nights get colder and eventually the nightclubs can open again…

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David

I called 311 and was put through to 911 because they said it presented a public health danger. Really, just send a couple patrol cars to Sunnyside each night. It will be pretty easy to find these guys. You can hear their engines from miles away.

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Sooverit

How insane that when a peaceful BLM march came thru our neighborhood And peacefully sat up on queens Blvd the 108pct Sent a task force in riot gear patrol vehicles, police vans, police bus etc for the most peaceful respectful protestors I’ve ever seen.
But for illegal drag racing, trespassing and unsafe driving ……. they send 1 patrol car …. and that response car marks it “ unfounded “ when in fact there is a mob of hundreds there.
NYPD priorities!!!! LOL
To keep us safe … they have no man power and working on a plan.
Defund police peaceful march …. send a huge ridiculous task force in riot gear !!!

SMH

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Anon

BLM has a history around the country of violence, arson and looting. The clowns racing have a history of abject stupidity, ergo the response by the NYPD.

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Resident

BLM = Burn Loot Murder.

A Marxist terrorist organization, plain and simply.

I wonder how many times I’ll have to state this opinion this before the SP will post it.

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Madhatter

Community Board 2 does not need to make excuses for the NYPD’s lack of action, that is the PBA’s job. If this were a protest the “Army” the Community Board states they would need would materialize so fast heads would spin. Community Board 2 needs to get a clue and get in the game. The NYPD and the administrative entity known as the “City of New York” are reactive in nature and not proactive. Nothing will be done until there is a loss of life. Sad but true. This also plays into Cuomo’s COVID-19 lack of law enforcement by the “City”. 26 COVID violations issued by the “City” and meanwhile in Queens you could easily get 4x that many in one location on one night.

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Mary O

@madhatter I agree something has to he done, however the quote you refer to was not from CB2 Chair.

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,”

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Ivan

No worry to the drag racers. Nothing will be done about this, the violence, robberies or anything else. The people will ultimately have to vote these politicians out of office that continue to look the other way.

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enforcement needed

Politicians are supposed to make the laws, POLICE are supposed to enforce the laws.

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CM

you know it wont happen…these dorks will vote Caban and AOC
all day, and Christian Murray and his gang will endorse them all day. They drool over DeBlasio and Cuomo all day.

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Reader

This is what you voted for, and what you marched for and protested for. Now it’s yours.

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Mac

Democrats are responsible for drag racing? You obviously have never been to the Republican controlled states of Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama or Arizona. You need to leave your parents basement once in awhile.

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reading comprehension

Dems control the city council, the state assembly, the state senate, the governors office, and the mayors office…so yes they are responsible for the decline in quality of life and fomenting hatred against the police…those other states have nothing to do with us and our problems…our leaders elected to address those problems are all democrats ….so yes democrats are responsible… you know because reality…

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Lance

@reading – Pick up a history book and try reading it. Drag racing and car stunts have been going on since I was a kid in the fifties here in Queens. Laurel Hill, Franny Lewis and Astoria Park just to name a few locations. The vacant lots have attracted this group. Once the police and the establishments involved come together and take corrective measures this group will move onto another location. You’re obviously new here like I said this has been going on in Queens since I was a child and we had plenty of Republican and Democratic Administrations state and local governments.,

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this is not the fifties

it is going on right now…and all of our leaders are democrats…nobody cares who was in charge in the fifties…

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Lance K

No but people care when people like you try to politicize every single issue.

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Sunnyside

First they are not drag racing .. drag racing is done on Conduit and it’s bin that way for over 30 years .. most of these cars run on E85 and the Closest gas station is are around jfk airport ..

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Bill

Total incompetence by the police not stopping these racers. I live on 43d street and hear it all the time. Everyone knows they are at Home Depot and do nothing.

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Reggie

I’m glad Review Avenue was mentioned. They drag race with impunity, mainly because there’s no foot traffic or pedestrains at night in such a desolate part of the neighborhood.

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spineless democrats caused this

and that’s why im voting republican down the ballot this November and every November going forward otherwise there will be nothing left of this city worth staying here for

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Speed racer

I called 911 to report this once and they hung up on me. the line was transferred to a recording telling me to call 311. Go speed racer go!

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Does 911 know how many times

I’ve called 311 only to be patched through to 911 who then tell at me for calling them???

I didn’t call you!!!

Don’t they know when 311 refers calls to 911???

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Men in Drag Racing Cars

Jimmy loves everything drag related so he
Won’t be doing anything to stop this.
Maybe he can organize a late night read a thon at the next drag race gathering at the Home Depot and keep those drivers distracted with books for several hours until they get drowsy and the rest of us can catch up on our sleep.

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JVB is ok

JVB was in contact with Home Depot and other establishments regarding the incidents described in the blog occurring on their premises. Letter posted to Facebook. JVB was on it well before your comments. Hahaha

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Anonymous

What happened to our councilman.
He was once a leader that everyone looked up to who got things done. He used to do graffiti cleanups, care if someone got assaulted, cared about trash and the condition of our parks.
He is now a slippery politician. He is not a respectable leader. It’s like a Greek tragedy– Narcissus.

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Joe

It’s a shame that we don’t hear from “our leaders” i.e. Jimmy Van Bramer about this. Communication goes a long way.
If at work, I ignore my clients and don’t reply to them within a reasonable time, I’ll be fired.
Elected officials must communicate, it’s part of their job!

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Chloe

He is probably busy with other matters like adding more bike lanes and defund the police. You know the things that matter to young white progressives who show up to vote during local elections.

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Gardens Watcher

JVB is awake this morning after all:

“City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told NY1 he’s contacted both police and the property managers, who are figuring out a plan to safeguard the parking lots after hours.”

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Brooks Remington

The NYPD should get it under control or some residents of Sunnyside will. Then the NYPD wont matter anymore.

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ABoondy

they clearly dont want to do anything, since they will get blamed for anything. no point in paying taxes anymore to the state until deblasio is out. i am not getting what i’m paying for. schools are a mess, cops dont do squat, the virus is still around, so where is my money going, besides being laundered by deblasio and wife. easiest way to deal with this is speed bumps. you cant race without getting airborne and crashing. put speed bumps on avenues, not just streets.

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Anonymous

The Home Depot and Plaza 48 each have only two means of access. It doesn’t take a SEAL team to be able to block the access and start issuing summonses for any of the numerous violations that are occurring.

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Neziah Bliss

It’s bad on Queens Blvd too. Can’t stand it. Even when not racing, the super loud bikes and cars killing everyone’s sleep.

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Steve

So much for Dibozos safe streets! And forget about masks and safe distancing! Of course Jimmy didn’t respond he’s one of the mayors cronies! Hope everyone understands your politician aren’t doing shit for you!

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Anonymous

No mention of the car that jumped the curb at the southeast corner 48th Street and 39th Avenue? They car smashed up some of the low brick and rail fencing in front of the property and the front bumper was left in the yard behind yellow caution tape. These car drivers do not care about anyone else — we’re just in their way. Without action, it’s only a matter of time until someone in the neighborhood is maimed or killed.

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Anonymous

I actually witnessed this accident and called 911. The car was off its wheels on top of the wall. The police called me back an hour and forty-two minutes later.

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Queens Streets for LOL

This is an interesting one. How should I/WE respond to this one? On the one hand this is annoying and keeps ME/12K residents in the 11104/37 up at night. On the other hand, these are fellow drivers who like to drive fast like I/WE do. Call ME/US conflicted, send hate comments, whatever at this point.

How about this? Queens Streets for LOL asks that no safety changes be made without a vote by all drivers who live along the affected corridors. And while I/WE are at it, give up your taxpayer funded cars and drivers, and license all cyclists and require them to carry insurance. Thank you for listening to me, I mean, me and 12K residents.

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WW

Why would the NYPD need an army to stop this? Block off the lots at the entrance/exit, simple! Do the same if they are already inside. No escape, not without their cars anyway. Confiscate all the vehicles left inside. Guaranteed they wouldn’t want to come back again if there were ever any enforcement of this kind with a threat of losing their vehicles.

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Gardens Watcher

This is not only a noise and safety issue. It’s a mass gathering which violates Covid rules. We don’t need to become a hot zone because of these covidiots.

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Anon

Wait until they’re all in the parking lot then block the exits. Arrest everyone for criminal trespass and seize the cars.

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Shmucky

They are literally staring at metal boxes with rubber wheels blowing smoke in the air… so fun… little d syndrome is a real crisis.

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Me

@Diane Ballek.We do have an army of police officers unfortunately they have been ordered to stand down by the JVBs and deblasios of the defund the police political lobby and this is only a small sample of what’s happening.i wonder if those cars had American flags and trump stickers how long this would last!!

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A Normal Person

But they haven’t been defunded… There budget was reduced by 6-7%
Can you not do just a tiny bit of research before you cling to tiny sound bytes?

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nobody

Oh I’m not suggesting BLM was mentioned, just saying our fragile cops won’t do a damn thing unless they hear those three letters and sense a chance for a beatdown. It’s a sad state of affairs.

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DEMOCRATSHATEWORKINGCLASS

It’s muppets like you and deblasio who destroy NYC with your anti-cop waffling.

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Anti-brutality?

You’re suggesting that being against brutality is being against cops?

I don’t think all cops are brutal, the way you do, but then again I support law enforcement.

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Got double standards?

If rioting and looting are permissible, why not drag racing?

Just don’t go to synagogue! That’s when the two clowns in Albany and City Hall get angry!

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Gardens Watcher

Home Depot needs to shut this down NOW. The National Liquidators spot is being renovated for a new BJs, so why not put up a fence to protect the property? JVB needs to address this publicly.

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Why is that home depot's fault?

Home depot is still aplomb with customers so there’s no room for drag racing there.

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Gardens Watcher

Nope. Home Depot closes at 9PM. And it’s not believable that they didn’t know this was going on with their surveillance cameras.

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Gardens Watcher

Great that the SSP has documented the problem. But did you need to post the addresses of the 311 complaint callers? Should be redacted. I wouldn’t want my address posted for fear of retaliation.

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Eyeroll

Uh, the addresses listed are not those of the callers but the location of the (noise/drag race) complaint.

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John Lynch

“Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, a resident of Sunnyside Gardens, did not respond for comment.” Of course he didn’t…

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Anonymous

call your famous counsel person JVB he will get on it right away – I think not it does not fit into his schedule —

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