Many people call it the unofficial sound of the summer in Baltimore — dirt bikes revving and racing through the streets.
Often people are frustrated and frightened by the illegal street riders — and riders and people out in the streets can and do get hurt.
Louis Thomas isn’t shy about the fact that he was once a prominent street racer in Druid Hill park and wherever his bike would take him.
He's created a program geared towards turning that passion for street riding into a career in racing.
“At one point I had an attitude that I didn’t care if I lived or died," Thomas said. "Once I got into competitive racing and understood my worth, my value, and how good I was it changed everything I did in life.”
His mentor tragically died while on a bike, and he was the one who pushed him to become a racer and not just a rider.
“The first time I had a taste of racing on the track I never rode on the street again," Thomas said. "I had a really good career of racing all the way to the Daytona Speedway.”
Baltimore City has spent years trying to figure out a solution to illegal dirt bike riding.
“Racing is a $6.5 billion industry and our boys in Baltimore are super talented. What I hate is that we criminalize good talent. What I like to do is give them the opportunity to show that talent and make money while they do that.”
The 3–4-week program will teach kids how to race, pit, and become a mechanic, and he's also teaching them leadership skills.
His son Collin followed in dad's footsteps racing in the streets without his dad knowing and now he’s their top racer.
“If you do it the right way it teaches you a lot of values in life and helps you mature as well," said Collin. "There’s a lot of things this has to offer more than just turning getting in the bike and turning the throttle.”
Switching gears from a public nuisance to a potential future.
“The police may come or people may come and make them move to another location, they are just displaced but nobody has a solution," Louis said. "What I do is come out and talk to them and give them an opportunity to race on our race team. Race on the track.”
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