FAST AND FURIOUS: Check Out The Real Illegal Street Racers Of Los Angeles

los angeles drag racing august 1997

“Fast and Furious 6” hits theatres this weekend in the US, packed with an amazing roster of cars and over the top action sequences.

But the movie franchise would never have started without real life inspiration.

Before you head to the movies, here’s a look at the real street racers of Los Angeles, where the original “The Fast and the Furious” film began.

Their driving may not be as outrageous as that of their movie counterparts, but those who choose to race illegally face the same serious, even deadly consequences.

Southern California is considered the birthplace of drag racing. Here's driver Don Garlits in 1961, racing his Chrysler Swamp Rat.

It has always been a sport that embraces unusual vehicles. Art Arfonts of Ohio named his ride the Green Monster, and he dressed to match.

Today, the cars look a bit different, but not much else has changed.

To prevent dangerous races on public streets, tracks were built in Southern California where drivers could compete legally, and safely.

But many have closed in recent years, as the area's population expands, non-racers complain about noise, and some tracks go bankrupt.

One of the few spots left for legal drag racing is the 1/8 mile strip at Barona Drags, a full two-hour drive from Los Angeles.

Those closures contribute to illegal street racing in LA.

In this 1997 photo, Darrick McCloud spins his motorcycle before racing on San Fernando Road in LA's Sylmar neighbourhood.

McCloud added cannisters of Nitrous Oxide to give his bike an extra jolt of speed. He apparently knew it was dangerous, painting the words 'organ' and 'donor' on the tanks.

That same August night, this young man crashed his car, effectively ending racing for the night, as the police were expected to arrive.

Such crashes are the reason California police crack down on street racing. Even spectators can be fined up to $1,000 and have their driver licenses revoked.

In 2010, street racing culture on LA streets came back briefly in legal form, with regular 'cruise nights' on Van Nuys Boulevard.

But illegal racing continues.

Just about everyone at CPR has done time for illegal racing, according to the show, but that doesn't stop them.

Before one race, CPR members packed a parachute into the back of their 1972 Datsun 240Z, to be deployed in case of an emergency.

As the Z competed with a Camaro, it slowed down to avoid a turning truck — a hazard of racing on public roads.

1972 datsun 240Z

But the driver didn't protest the loss, and the money went to his competitor. The cash reward is a cherry on top for the drivers who love the sport so much they're willing to risk prison time and death to keep racing.

Now meet the stars of the new movie.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.