Viral video under investigation appears to show street racing on Route 6 in Willimantic

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MANSFIELD -- Willimantic Police and State Police are investigating a viral video of a street race that took place Sunday afternoon on Route 6 on the Willimantic-Mansfield town line.

"All of a sudden, traffic was just stopped," said Leo Halle, who took video of the incident on his cell phone.

Halle said he was driving about 65 mph when he approached the traffic. "All the people that had to stop and slam on their brakes in the middle of the highway, it's crazy," said Halle.

Halle said two cars blocked traffic, as a man got out and signaled for the cars to race.

"We've been really trying to put a net around it," said Willimantic Police Lieutenant Stan Parizo.

The video, posted to Facebook Sunday around 5 p.m., appears to show people stopping traffic so the race can take place.

Lt. Parizo said the racers use roads that cross through city lines, as well as two State Police jurisdictions. "They'll get up onto the highway, they'll stop traffic, they'll race down the highway, then they'll get off the exit ramp for Willimantic," said Lt. Parizo. "And then they'll do the entire loop again."

He says it can be difficult to catch drivers in the act, so Willimantic Police will instead pick them up for trespassing at a local parking lot that serves as a meeting spot. "We've issued numerous citations for simple trespassing there, so we've been kind of nipping that in the bud," said Lt. Parizo.

Unlike most street races that take place at night, Lt. Parizo called Sunday's 'unusual' because it happened in the middle of the afternoon. "We haven't seen that in broad daylight," said Lt. Parizo.

State Police are urging drivers to call if they see a race in progress.

"It happens so fast, and that's why it's important for the public to call us," said MSgt. William Kittle with State Police Troop K. "I cannot emphasize how dangerous drag racing is and how much the public is at risk."

This story will be updated as we learn more.