A look at the past and present of illegal and disruptive car stunts called ‘sideshows’
Authorities arrested seven people, cited dozens more and impounded nine vehicles in connection with multiple sideshows over the weekend that happened in broad daylight, including one that briefly shut down Interstate 5, California Highway Patrol officials said Monday.
One of the illegal driving demonstrations near Pocket Road on northbound I-5 Saturday evening and a few smaller incidents Sunday evening in North Sacramento resulted in the arrests and citations, CHP Valley Division spokesman Officer Mike Harris said.
Harris said seven arrests were made in relation to the reckless driving, and 27 citations were issued. Harris noted that citations can be handed out to people involved as a spectators, not just drivers.
“It’s not just illegal to drive, it’s illegal to participate in a sideshow in any manner,” he said.
CHP responded to calls for the Saturday sideshow at 5:22 p.m. and it was dispersed by 5:35 p.m., Harris said. The illegal display stopped northbound I-5 traffic during that time, as cars spinning donuts and spectators stepping out of their cars could be seen on Caltrans’ live traffic camera.
Smaller incidents that did not fully close roadways were reported Sunday afternoon into the evening, including vehicles racing at high speeds on Interstate 80.
“It’s pretty rare in our area,” Harris said of daytime sideshows. “We’ve had some of them, but the reality is it’s an extremely dangerous, hazardous situation. You’re putting a lot of people, a lot of motorists, a lot of innocent bystanders in danger.”
The arrests were made in coordination with CHP’s ground units, air operations, investigative teams and K-9 units, Harris said.
A spokesperson for CHP’s North Sacramento office told The Bee earlier this year that the entire Sacramento area has seen an uptick in sideshows, which frequently happen on Saturday nights. They are often organized discreetly in private social media groups, and the biggest ones can draw hundreds of participants. They’re most common in the summer.
In some sideshows, few to no arrests are made because of their large size. Officers often have to forgo many arrests to pursue more dangerous offenders.