Two young men will serve six months in jail for their roles in an illegal street race that left a third man fighting for life.

Two young Queensland men have been jailed over a high-speed street race that ended in a horror smash and left a third man fighting for life.

The men, aged 22 and 20, were sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, to be suspended after six months, in the Brisbane District Court.

A third man involved in causing the four-car pile-up in 2012 at Brighton, north of Brisbane, received a suspended sentence of 18 months.

Matthew Street and Patrick Balagtas reached speeds between 160km/h and 180km/h during the impromptu drag race on the Deagon Deviation on the night of August 10, 2012, the court heard on Friday.

Street, 20, rounded a bend and lost control of his Mazda RX-7, before the car smashed into an embankment and collided with Balagtas’s Subaru Impreza.

Street’s friend Mason Thompson, 20, had been following the pair at speed when his vehicle ploughed into his friend’s stationary car. A fourth vehicle then slammed into Thompson’s car.

Street’s passenger, Nathan Lewthwaite, suffered horrific injuries including punctures to both lungs and spinal injuries, and had life-saving emergency surgery.

He is still recovering.

Street and Balagtas pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm while speeding and taking part in an unlawful race, as well as dangerous driving while speeding and taking part in an unlawful race.

Thompson pleaded guilty to dangerous driving while speeding.

Justice Katherine McGinness said it was a real and concerning example of what could happen when young men raced at excessive speed.

“You are all fortunate that death did not occur to either one of your passengers or to yourselves during the incident,” she said.

The judge said Street and Balagtas should serve time in prison to deter similar offending and because of the seriousness of Mr Lewthwaite’s injuries.

She said Balagtas had been caught speeding since the incident and banned him from driving for two years.

Street was disqualified from driving for 18 months and Thompson for one year.