Randy Ellis, an officer with the Eugene Police Department, started in 1970 and has been part of the force for 45 years.
In 1972, the police force established a “traffic noise team” or “TNT” to address a growing problem on South Willamette Street called “cruisin’ the gut”. The gut ran from 29th and Willamette to 6th Street and back. “TNT” consisted mostly of car guys, including Ellis, who cared about the kids and were out every weekend, attempting to keep a safe, responsible environment.
The main problem was noise from the loud vehicles, so one of the main tasks “TNT” took on was working with kids and hot rod shops to help get the cars within proper noise levels. “TNT” worked with kids and high schools, continually working on solutions to keep kids out of trouble.
The “Gut Dragger Handbook” was created and passed out all the way through the 80s to help kids cruising to learn the rules, avoid trouble, and be responsible. Other cities plagiarized it for their own “gut” situations.
If kids messed up, “TNT” would offer alternatives to tickets like helping to clean up trash. Other more creative solutions were used at different times to address the kids who wouldn’t cooperate, such as cattle gates and road markings. Lots of tickets were, of course, handed out over the years.
Trespassing enforcement became one of the main ways to control the situation. Ellis created a way for Willamette Street businesses to allow the Eugene Police to enforce trespassing. After that, Bob’s Burgers on Willamette was one of the only places to park and watch the gut traffic. Prior to that, cars lined just about every corner of the street which led to more problems like damage, fights, etc.
Special Note: Past Southtowne President George Rode lived on the gut every weekend for a couple years and ended up with a bunch of tickets.
The gut tried to move a few times (River Road, Coburg Road) but was never successful outside of Willamette Street (partly because of trespassing enforcement).
Eventually “TNT” became a motorcycle traffic team as the gut activities dissipated.