If you blinked, you might have missed them. After criss crossing the country, an exotic car club made their way to Bay county, cruising around Panama City. Some of their road antics, however, caught the eye of law enforcement.
Ramin Arami, the founder of the Gold Rush Rally says it was started about 4 years ago as a small event for car enthusiasts to gather and show off their hot wheels. This year, the event was bigger than before. Drivers went from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to Atlanta and then for the first time to Panama City. Arami says the Gold Rush Rally raises money for charity.
"Our rally is more about enjoying the road and it's not about speeding or who gets there faster," Arami said. "Friendships that are basically made during this rally, they last mostly a lifetime."
The event captured the attention of Bay County car lovers, but it also captured the attention of Panama City Police on June 15th, when the rally came into Panama City. Police said they had no idea the rally was coming. In a police report, they say the Florida Highway Patrol had been clocking the cars at speeds close to 200 miles per hour. It also said FHP had been advised to "be on the lookout" for the drivers. An officer pulled over one driver for reckless driving.
"He heard what he believed to be a tire squealing he saw some smoke and a vehicle fish-tailing on 15th street," said PCPD Lieutenant Robert Luther. "He conducted a traffic stop, the driver actually lost control of the vehicle."
The police report says the driver, Omid Shaffat from Maryland, was crossing into oncoming lanes of traffic on Highway 98. Shaffatt says he was making a low speed U-turn and was arrested anyway. He calls the arrest unfair.
"A simple ticket could have sufficed the situation, but the officer said that his superior had told him to charge me with reckless, incarcerate me, and impound the vehicle," Shaffaat said.
Shaffat says while he and the other drivers enjoyed most of their time in Panama City, they likely wont make their way back to the panhandle for another rally in the future.