Road Safety 101, Texas Style

This photo shows Henry Louis Gates Jr., center, as he is arrested on July 16 at his home in Cambridge, Mass. Cambridge police officers attending are, Sgt. James Crowley, right, and Sgt. Leon Lashley, front right. Police said Gates, 58, was arrested after he yelled at an officer, accused him of racial bias and refused to calm down after the officer demanded that Gates show him identification to prove he lived in the home.
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Every Friday night, drag racers who might otherwise be chasing each other on city streets, come to Houston Raceway Park for a showdown. CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith reports on Road Safety 101, Texas style, for The Early Show's Study Hall.

This real-ife racing was fueled, in part, by films like last year's "The Fast And The Furious" where the coolest guys in the fastest cars blasted through the streets for the hottest women or was that the fastest women? Anyway, it's the same idea here. But it's a lot safer.

"This is just a great thing and we're behind it 100 percent," says Sgt. Richard Whitaker of Baytown Police Department

It is way for the racers to get it out of their system.

"They're in a controlled environment, they're not putting anyone else's lives in danger," says Sgt. Whitaker.

The thinking is, if the kids are here on a Friday night, they're not tearing it up on a street somewhere else. The question is, what happens when this legal track closes?

"When this closes at 10:30, 11 o'clock at night that's when the fun begins," says racer Charles Osborne.

Some racers see the track as a temporary fix at best.

"Illegal street-racing goes on," once the track closes, Osborne says. "Kind of, like, when your mother tells you not to do something when you're a kid, you do it anyway, right? And it's kind of like that."

But for some teens, one night is enough. Chris Clewell and his friends drove two hours to get here. How fast can his car go?

"I don't know yet, first time I been out here. That's what I'm trying to find out," Clewell says. "Fairly quick…135."

He didn't have to wonder for long. After a safety check, racers here just line up and go.

The races are for all cars from full on, nitro-breathing race machines to garden variety family cars. The only requirement is a license and a need for speed.

"It's an adrenaline rush. That's what it is," says Nick Ferri.

There are some who say this encourages kids to race and, whether it's legal or illegal, it's dangerous. Track general manager Gerald Critchfield agrees.

"Well, it is. All racing is dangerous. I think the thing about a track is that it gives the safest environment possible for an activity that goes on, whether there's a track in the area or not," he says.

Most of the teen racers at the track say they actually prefer to race in a controlled environment.