Recent online stories of the River Road brought back the memory of an
incident that happened there in, I believe, 1956. The River Road runs
between the north end of Griffith Park and the LA River. It was a natural
spot for speed contests. The LAPD would make raids occasionally, but
normally everyone was left alone. The cops put out the word that they wanted
to hold a meeting there on a particular night and no one would be arrested.
On that night, a crowd of easily 50-100 showed up to hear what the cops had
Before the police showed up, several cars were racing. A pair of cars
took off and raced west. At about this time the police showed up and parked
their car on the opposite side of the street from where everyone was
gathered. The cars that had just raced came racing back. Unfortunately,
there was a bend in the road and the racers couldn't see the cop car parked
halfway into the road. One of the cars was a '33 Plymouth coupe with an Olds
in it. He rounded the bend with the other late model car next to him. He had
no place to go.
He got hard on the brakes and slid into the police car. The picture is
still burned into my brain. The police car, with red lights flashing, slid
backwards down an embankment. The little Plymouth spun out in the middle of
the street. The cops gave their speech about the dangers of drag racing
there as just amply demonstrated and called for a tow truck. No one was
cited and nothing more was ever said. Drag racing, however, moved to the LA
River channel near downtown LA.