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Brotherhood Raceway

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« on: December 17, 2010, 07:52:47 pm »

A word from Deputy Bill:

Posted on 10/10/2007, 6:07 am, in reply to
"Re: Death on 135- Slick Rick Lost his life last night on 135"

Rick & I use to race at TI all the time. Last time he got hurt on his bike I saw him in the hospital. We talked about how important it is to have the track. In the last year Big Willie and I have been fighting city hall (Wilmington) to please let us open a track, even an 1/8th mile. We finally got an LAPD Police Chief behind us and were are still trying. My condolences to Rick's family. I met his mom & sister when he was in Harbor General a while back. For all those street racers I understand. I am still trying to get us all another track. My prayers are with you Rick.
Deputy Bill
Team Sheriff Racing

A word from S. Pullin the Executive Producer of PINKS to the mayor of Los Angeles:

Oct 21 2007


Recently we shot an episode of our hit show PINKS ALL OUT on SPEED Channel, in Las Vegas. This particular episode had a very positive outcome for the Los Angeles based Brotherhood of Street Racers. The theme of the show centers around the fact that there are no tracks in Los Angeles for racers and they either race on the street or must travel long distance to a track. In this case several racers came to our show in Las Vegas to compete for the $10,000 prize. In a stroke of pure serendipity, two of them made it into the final out of 350 racers and Kenny Long a local racer won. Several LA Based racers were interviewed and I have also put them into the show. The message that people should race on the track and not the streets is throughout the show from racers, Rich Christensen the host and others. About eight references. As the show ends, the two Brotherhood members make a passionate plea to get the Brotherhood Raceway track re-opened. All of this makes for a very compelling and I think entertaining show that will be viewed by millions of people.

This ALL OUT show will air on national television on Thanksgiving evening in Prime Time after a 20 hour PINKS marathon on Speed Channel. We did this last year on the same day for the ALL OUT premiere which received the highest ratings in the history of the network for any one hour show. This time we anticipate the audience could be larger, reaching over 3 million people in one airing. It will then go into regular rotation like our other shows which typically run about 100 times each per year and are distributed widely all over South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Jet Blue and military networks around the world. We have now made 10 ALL OUT’s which were shot in front of very large audiences, up to 33,000 in Detroit making us the second largest event in Drag racing. We are contracted to make 10 new shows next year around the country. Season Five of PINKS begins airing in February.

I have no power to re-open the Brotherhood Raceway or any other track around Los Angeles, I can only make television that draws attention to the situation in this city and many others around the country. I have personally been a supporter of the Brotherhood’s efforts for several years. It is a shameful situation that the city that created drag racing has turned its back on this group of racers. There is obviously a serious lack of political will and leadership in this city that I find particularly disturbing. Tell me what else I can do to help this cause. Too many innocent people are dying on our streets. I would like to personally present a copy of this show to the Mayor of Los Angeles and encourage him to watch the show, see what we are doing around the country with our show that is having a tremendous impact to take racing off the streets and onto the track. It is my understanding that he has the power to re-open the Terminal Island track. If any of you could be instrumental in making this meeting happen I would be very grateful.

Hopefully this will encourage the city leaders to take serious steps to re-open Brotherhood Raceway.

S. Pullin


LASD- Deputy Sheriff Chaffin, Bill - Team Sheriff Racing

LAPD- Officer Rodriguez - SFV Street Racer Task Force

LAPD- Officer Foti, Tony - LAPD Racing

Justice Department - Automated e-mail

Please forward this email to anyone you feel should be aware of this airing including the News Departments that have worked with the Brotherhood on Street Race Stories.

Fox 11 NEWS Producer
NBC NEWS Reporter
ABC NEWS Reporter

S. Pullin
Executive Producer
Pullin Television, Inc.

PINKS: Lose the race, lose your ride! Season Five shoots August-October
PINKS: ALL OUT! Episodes shooting monthly across North America.
PINKS: ALL OUT TAKES Episodes shooting monthly across North America.

PINKS All Out Las Vegas BSR Interview


Here is what Sports Illustrated had to say about Brotherhood Raceway on their 40th Anniversary Issue-

September 19, 1994
A Peacekeeping Force
Warring gangs downshift at Big Willie Robinson's drag strip
Ken McAlpine

It's a sunny Saturday, and spectators at Brotherhood Raceway Park are holding their cars. At the starting line a Ford and a Chevy, both souped up, lay down serious rubber. Their spinning wheels spew billows of white smoke. The noise is like Velcro tearing inside your skull.
But the source of the auditory agony isn't tire screech. It's the chubby fellow whose screams are assaulting a defenseless public-address system. His name is Willie Andrew Robinson III, but he prefers to be called Big Willie.
"Which car you want?" yells Big Willie. His question is directed to the track announcer, a frequent target of Big Willie's good-natured hustles. "I got 20 hot dogs with chili and onions against whatever you can put up. You beat me, you can throw a picnic. Invite everyone you know. Maybe even have some leftovers. C'mon now, don't be scared. If you're scared to bet, you deserve to lose."
The announcer picks the Ford. "Bung mistake," says Big Willie, cackling.
The colored bulbs on the starter's tree light up one at a time, top to bottom: yellow, yellow, then green. Big Willie implores the racers, "C'mon, cut a good light and run straight." The Chevy does precisely that, squealing down the quarter-mile track to a convincing victory.
"Hooo-eee!" he shouts. "My lucky day! Just got Thanksgiving dinner squared away! Hot dogs with chili and onions!"
Two more cars pull up to the line. Big Willie turns to his foil with a toothy grin. "Listen," he says. "I'll give you a chance to get some hot dogs back. I have a heart."
He's a man with a heart, all right. And a cause. That is why he has worked so hard to preserve this drag strip on Terminal Island, at the western end of Los Angeles Harbor. The raceway, which has gone in and out of existence for the past 20 years, is a demilitarized zone of sorts. Gangs from south-central Los Angeles, from the barrios at the city's eastern edge and from the San Fernando Valley come here to slam down the accelerators of rusted Pintos, sleek Camaros, jacked-up station wagons and other moving contraptions. Overseeing it is 52-year-old Big Willie, a 6'6", 300-pound peacekeeper.
"Black, white, yellow, brown, skinheads, Nazi party members, Muslims, we got 'em all," he says. "They're all here at the track, and they're communicatin'. And once they start communicatin", they start likin' each other, and once they start likin' each other, they forget about the hate." Big Willie's operation consists of' several acres of asphalt, a line of cracked barricades and a POW-MIA flag popping in the sea breeze. The site is called Brotherhood Raceway because brotherhood is what Big Willie has preached since 1966, when he returned from a two-year tour in Vietnam and formed the National and International Brotherhood of Street Racers, a group of hot-rodders who provide an antidote to racial unrest. The only requirements for membership are a vehicle and a lead foot.
In the early days, members gathered at night on deserted streets and in back alleys, holding races that drew hundreds of fans. Drag racing on city streets is illegal in Los Angeles, and the police considered shutting down the enterprise. Ultimately, they decided to look the other way. "They would come and help out with traffic control," says Big Willie. "We weren't supposed to be there, but we were bringing peace to the streets."
Finding a tract for a bona fide drag strip wasn't easy. There was the matter of noise, and the scarcity of unused land in the city—not to mention the brotherhood's potentially combustible membership. But Big Willie persisted, and after a long search, the races moved to Terminal Island in 1974. Over the next decade, the Los Angeles Harbor Commission shut the raceway down several times because it needed the land for storage or port access. Each time, Big Willie would pester then Mayor Tom Bradley and the city council for help in finding a new spot by showing up at council meetings and making speeches about how his strip helped keep the peace. "I've never known anybody more persistent," says Bradley. "He just won't give up on his dream. He can be so persuasive that many people who at the outset are opposed to his ideas are finally overwhelmed."
Almost 30 years after his crusade began, Big Willie is still at it because the ills he has fought with missionary zeal—racism and violence—are still alive and well. So is his manifesto: If you're racing, you're not killing.
Big Willie would rather press ahead than look back in anger. Back to his childhood in the 1940s in New Orleans, with its separate schools, separate churches, separate racetrack seating for black people. Back to Louisiana State University in 1960, where he ambled out of history class one day to find the windows broken, headlights smashed and tires cut on his prized 1953 Oldsmobile hot rod. Back to yesterday's news stories of children gunned down in the streets. "There's a lot of ghosts around me, lot of ghosts," says Big Willie. "I don't have time to sit down and cry. I got to keep pushin' forward to bring more people together, so we don't have this crazy violence out there."
Everyone is welcome at the track, where the motto is: Run what you brung, tow what you blow. Big-rig trucks, Volkswagen buses, go-karts, bicycles, dog sleds and a motor home built out of the front half of an airplane have all rumbled down Big Willie's drag strip. The eclecticism of the machinery is matched only by that of the crowd: tattooed muscle bikers, Hispanic kids in white T-shirts and floppy pants, bony black youths sporting hair nets and oversized jewelry, motorheads elbow deep in engines, families sprawled in beach chairs and eating picnic lunches. Even Big Willie's mother, Lula Mae Robinson, has raced here, piloting her Cadillac with aplomb. "Man can show up naked driving with his privates, he's welcome here," says Big Willie.
The melting-pot atmosphere is due in large part to Big Willie's disregard for profits. Ten dollars gets you in the gate, but Big Willie lets in an armada of folks for free: veterans, policemen, firefighters, Big Brothers of America and anyone who can't afford the admission. "It's not good business," says Tomiko Robinson, Big Willie's wife of 25 years and his assistant at the strip. "But it's the way Willie wants it."
Big Willie is not, however, a starry-eyed softy. His supporters go on about the size of his heart; but it's public knowledge that he once ripped a car door off its hinges to rescue his wife from her race car after a crash. Brotherhood members police the track, but it's Big Willie's presence that ensures calm. On the rare occasions when a fracas seems imminent, Big Willie halts the racing, collars the suspects and drags them out on the track, where he berates them in front of the crowd. As he shouts, he jabs the air with a deli-pickle-sized finger while the sinners stare at the ground. "By the time he's done," says Tomiko, "they're so embarrassed they've forgotten why they're angry."
Big Willie makes ends meet at home by doing assorted odd jobs. Despite the flexible admissions policy, the track stays solvent, thanks to a combination of municipal largess, private support and Big Willie's creative street bartering. He leases the strip from the city for $1 a month. The barricades and bleachers are on loan from the Long Beach Grand Prix. Local businesses chip in product prizes. Graffiti artists paint the signs. A lawyer agreed to represent the raceway pro bono after Big Willie used his street connections to locate the man's stolen car.
The folks along the strip say Big Willie has helped curb violence outside the raceway gates. "Since we've had this drag strip, things have been much more mellow," says Reggie Foley, a 26-year resident of Compton, a south-central L.A. neighborhood familiar with gang violence. "Man's doin' a wonderful job. We're thankful Willie believes."
Says Steve Soboroff, a former harbor commissioner, "L.A. could use a lot more people like Willie. So could the world."
At the moment, however, the world seems more concerned with commerce than with calming hotheaded kids. Next spring, a harbor expansion project is scheduled to gobble up the drag strip and replace it with a coal-exporting facility. Officials say they have no plans to furnish another spot for the strip.
But Big Willie doesn't seem overly concerned. He believes he has the support of Mayor Richard Riordan and hopes to set up drag strips in New York, Philadelphia, Detroit and New Orleans. With characteristic optimism, he says, "This is one story that doesn't end here."

As the Sixties drew to a close, the social upheaval seen in other spheres of society influenced drag racing as well. In the wake of the 1965 Watts riots, legendary street racer Big Willie Robinson figured out a way to use drag racing to change society. An imposing, muscular 6'6" Vietnam vet with a badass Hemi Daytona Charger and trademark bowler hat, Big Willie was the undisputed king of the late '60s- '70s East L.A. street racing scene. In response to the growing influence of drugs and street gangs, Big Willie and his wife Tomiko organized the 'Brotherhood of Street Racers' as a way to channel the energy of South Central youth away from crime and violence -- "peace through racing," as he put it. Working with local officials and police, Big Willie was the driving force behind the building of Brotherhood Raceway Park on L.A. harbor's Terminal Island. Before it closed in 1995, BRP was a popular destination for young South Cental racers and is widely regarded as the birthplace of import drag racing -- the 'Fast and Furious' scene. Efforts are now underway to reopen BRP, hopefully extending Big Willie's legacy to another generation of L.A. gearheads of every ethnicity.

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