Newly released video shows the danger that a lane-changing pack of exotic sports cars created as they sped past unsuspecting motorists, and even two school buses, on a busy west metro highway at more than 100 mph.
Images from Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) traffic cameras and a police squad car dashcam were made public this week after the Minnetonka city attorney’s office closed its file on the 12 drivers who were charged with being part of the high-octane cruise April 2016 along westbound Interstate 394 and connecting Hwy. 12.
The video starts with the sports cars snaking onto I-394 soon after leaving Morrie’s Luxury Auto near the Louisiana Avenue interchange. MnDOT video shows them roaring past traffic, many of them whooshing by a school bus towing an equipment trailer and a second close behind. At times, some of the cars were in a single lane in close formation. Other times, a few bunched up in tight packs resembling a NASCAR race.
Social media sizzled after a dozen of the drivers were tracked down and ticketed. Some commenters believed law enforcement was too heavy-handed. Others were outraged by the drivers’ behavior and the sense of privilege seen in men racing down public roads in luxury cars valued at a collective $2 million — a Lamborghini, Maserati and Ferrari among them.
Audio: ‘I got you at 110’
Also newly released was audio from State Patrol Lt. Paul Stricker as he explained in a calm yet scolding tone to some of the drivers about the danger they created with their high-speed cruise.
“I got you at 110,” Stricker said to Ethan Hoover of Bloomington, whose lime green Lamborghini made for easy detection. “Then everybody else is back and forth in traffic and trying to keep up.”
To several of the drivers who peeled off but were caught at a Holiday gas station in Maple Plain, Stricker spelled out his view of their adventure.
“Here’s the thing, OK?” the trooper began. “Our death rate this year is almost higher than it was last year. You guys crash one of these going that fast and racing like you were, you’re going to die.
“I get it, you guys got phenomenal cars, and they’re built to go fast. Trust me, I get it. But you got to [find] a safe spot to do it. Doing it on a Saturday afternoon in heavy traffic is not the place. Somebody’s going to get hurt.”
Swen Corbin, whose invitation-only exotic car club arranged the cruise, with female passengers and a photographer, asked the trooper where he spotted them.
“I was eastbound on 394,” Stricker told Corbin. “I activated my radar and got 110, just like that. … I counted, I’m guessing, two dozen cars.”
Corbin replied that “it’s too bad” they had to get pulled over. “We really had a nice event going.”
One passenger tried to downplay the speed. “I think we were going about 60, something like that,” the woman told the state trooper.
Corbin and Hoover eventually pleaded guilty.
‘You must have some idea’
A West Hennepin police officer sent by the State Patrol to find some of the vehicles quizzed a few of the drivers about what they might have done to get stopped.
“Any clue why?” the officer can be heard on his dashcam video outside the Holiday station. “You must have some idea.”
“A couple of guys on the cruise might have been going faster than they should have been,” one driver replied. “I can’t imagine what else it would be.”
The prosecution won seven guilty pleas, while five defendants had their cases thrown out, largely because of uncertainty about who was behind the wheel. Punishments for the convicted included hundreds of dollars in fines. Most also were ordered to perform various community service duties over a handful of days.
Minnetonka City Attorney Rolf Sponheim emphasized Wednesday just how dangerous the high-speed excursion was for the drivers and anyone else traveling nearby.
“When there is a high degree of speed variance, there is an increased opportunity for crashes to occur because more passing maneuvers are required,” Sponheim said. “Also, motorists proceeding at or near the posted speed limit are put at risk … because they do not have reason to anticipate that other vehicles would be traveling at a speed greatly in excess of the posted speed limit.”
Sponheim also pointed out that when Stricker first pulled over several of the drivers on Hwy. 12, others “took dangerous [and] evasive maneuvers, including U-turns. The drivers’ actions posed a significant danger to other nearby drivers and their passengers.”