Area car enthusiasts say they feel they’re getting a bad rap after a large bust in Wells Branch in March.
The Travis County Sheriff’s Office led the massive bust, arresting people who had become known for doing illegal burnouts, street racing, drug use and fighting in Wells Branch.
Afterward, deputies encouraged neighbors to be vigilant, warning some of the troublemakers may come back and try the same stunts again.
Since then, people in neighboring areas have been on alert. A couple of weeks ago, neighbors in the Copperfield area of North Austin called KXAN, reporting a car meet where they believed drivers were racing out of a shopping center parking lot off of East Yager Lane.
The organizers of that car meet say because of the Wells Branch bust, people are jumping to conclusions.
“They thought people were speeding off, but they weren’t speeding off,” said Jessica Balcar, organizer of the Monday night meet. “They were getting up to speed. They just have loud vehicles, so it sounds like they’re going fast. I understand that in a neighborhood, you hear a loud car, it sounds like they’re going fast, you’re going to suspect somebody’s speeding.”
Balcar says her meet, which usually draws in about 100 people every Monday night, has relocated three times now, because of the chaos the Wells Branch group caused. After neighbor complaints off of East Yager Lane, the group canceled its meet last week, and moved to a new location at a parking lot in Round Rock this week.
“It’s sad to see that some people are going out of their way to destroy their cars and ruin meets for people,” said Timothy Black, who attends Balcar’s meets.
“I have been kicked out of every parking lot in Austin,” added Bryan Kerley, who also attends the meets. “There is a misunderstanding. They think we’re here causing trouble.”
Balcar says her group wants others to know that their meets are not like those in Wells Branch that were shut down. She says she sets strict rules
“No revving,” she said, “People doing burnouts is not allowed here, donuts in the parking lot, speeding in the parking lot, street racing out of the parking lot, loud music, I don’t allow that either. I find out who does bad stuff whenever they do it, and then I talk to them, and I get the situation fixed.”
In addition, Balcar says she gets permission from shopping center owners before she ever holds a meet in their lot.
“The problem with Wells Branch is nobody was there to organize that,” she said. “Nobody actually ran that meet. It was just a bunch of people started meeting up, inviting more people, it turned into a huge thing, and since nobody was there to lay down any rules or regulations or anything, they just started acting crazy, and it led to what happened. Since then, the car enthusiasts have really gotten a really big, negative impact.”