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Booth’s new mayoral race

John Booth will be competing in Top Town for Petrol Heads later this month. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN

John Booth left local body politics in the rear vision mirror this week, but as far as the future is concerned it’s pedal to the metal. Times-Age reporter ELI HILL took a drive with the former Carterton mayor.

John Booth has swapped his mayoral chains for the glamour of motor racing, beauty queen and all … although he’s not leaving all his local government colleagues behind.

He’ll be speeding around Auckland racetracks on October 21 in a race against 12 other mayors as part of the new show ‘Top Town for Petrol Heads’.

I met John at Fagan Motors yesterday, where a 10-speed 2019 Mustang similar to the one he’ll be competing in was waiting for us.

After John posed in front and inside of the photogenic car, we jumped into his slightly less powerful work car for a sample of his driving.

Our lap through Masterton was tame, but it gave me a chance to ask John a few questions about the show – and his racing ability.

Reporter Eli Hill took a drive with John Booth. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN

“I’ve never driven a car on a racetrack before, but I guess coming from a rural background I’ve got a fairly good grip on what happens when it starts to slide and how to handle them,” he said.

“Also, I’ve been given a few tips from people locally.”

As part of the show John will be racing on Hampton Downs, the Meremere Dragway, Drift Track, and Dirt Track, as well as completing a flying quarter mile at Ardmore Airport.

In the car he’ll be joined by Miss Grand New Zealand 2019 Emma Gribble, an experience John wasn’t averse to.

Not part of the race but an experience in itself will be a ride in a 200-horsepower jet sprint boat.

The whole show will be filmed in one action packed day.

John seemed to appreciate the thrill of going fast, which led to the topic of speeding tickets. Had he collected any recently?

“Not for a number of years now,” he said pointing to a little electronic device in the middle of the car that alerts him when he’s approaching the speed limit.

“Not long ago the council reminded me to be a responsible driver. They had noticed on the GPS some of my speeds had creeped up a bit.

“Like all young fellas we enjoyed a bit of boogie-woogie, I had a V8 XR8 Falcon and that was a licence to thrill.”

As for the competition, the mayor who’s driving ability he’s weary of is Alfred Preece, mayor of the Chatham Islands.

John’s looking forward to the show and while he didn’t expect to set any land speed records, the experience in itself was set to be “pretty amazing”.

“It’s a great thing to be finishing my mayoralty on.”

The show is set to premiere on Sky this summer.


  1. Disgusting ! And meantime the Carterton District Council Facebook page has ongoing posts asking “What are you doing for climate change?” and so on. Obvious that John and the other participants in this fiasco don’t care at all ! The Times Age wouldn’t print my actual thoughts so I’m being polite.

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