Speed racing contests are illegal for drivers to participate in, unless done so in an approved setting. California Vehicle Code 23109 discusses the specifics of speed contests and their corresponding repercussions.
First of all, no person shall engage, aid, or abet in any motor vehicle speed contest on a highway. This includes assisting a race in any way by timing or constructing a barricade which is considered an obstruction of the highway.
Any person who is convicted of a participating in a speed racing contest may be punished by imprisonment in county jail between 24 hours and 90 days, a fine between $355 and $1,000, or a combination of a fine and imprisonment. With the punishment, the convicted must complete 40 hours of community service, and may lose the privilege of operating a motor vehicle for anywhere from 90 days to six months. An exception may be granted for people who use a vehicle as part of their employment.
If a person is convicted of speed racing and doing so caused bodily injury to another person, the driver is subject to further fines and possible imprisonment. If said driver has also committed the offense of racing within the last 5 years and is caught again, he will be punished by imprisonment and a fine between $500 and $1,000.
All in all, racing on the road is illegal and dangerous, and may result in hefty fines, imprisonment, and loss of vehicle usage privileges. The punishment increases if it is the driver's second or third offense, or if anyone is injured during the speed race.
Any "contest" where a driver does not exceed the speed limit and covers a prescribed route of more than 20 miles, is not considered a race according to this section.
It is the driver's responsibility to abide by maximum speed limit laws and to not race in speed contests.
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