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Cops steer hoons to racetrack
Tango 1 does a burnout before doing a drag run. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

It was 11.17 seconds of pure sensory overload.

I felt the entire car rumble, my ears were filled with the sound of a 460 horsepower race-tuned V8 engine, I could smell burning rubber and I watched the lights go from white to amber, then green.

Then the 1997 VT HSV Manta launched and things just got weird. The car squats, lifts, then it feels like it’s floating as it starts hurtling down the quarter-mile. I couldn’t tell you how long the launch lasted, all I know is at some stage I got my bearings and felt a wave of adrenaline rush through my body.

We hit almost 200km/h over the 400m course and finished the track 0.03sec faster than expected.

My four-cylinder Toyota Camry will never feel the same. Having been a passenger in Tango 1 on Woop Ass Wednesday at Perth Motorplex, it’s easy to understand why people fall in love with drag racing.

But the team behind the car have an extra reason for coming back each week during race season that runs from September to April.

They are called Beat the Heat (WA) and are made up of about a dozen serving police officers, civilian staff and former WA Police employees.

They love their motorsport and use their passion to spread an important road safety message. They kept Tango 1 running in their spare time when WA Police ended its involvement with the drag car in 2005. They rely on sponsors and have expanded to include a Pontiac GTO and a Holden SS-V wagon.

“We want to reduce the number of illegal street races in the community,” team manager Sgt Mike Pearson said.

“We want to get them off the road and into a safe and controlled environment.”

Sgt Pearson has seen the devastating effects of road trauma during his 30-year career as a police officer.

He firmly believes Beat the Heat makes a difference.

It’s all about engaging with the fans. Half the battle has been won by simply attracting them to the track and most, if not all, will wander over for a chat.