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There’s space for wheels at Smokefest

While ‘boy racers’ continue to leave rubber on Wairarapa’s public roads, there was plenty of room during the weekend for car enthusiasts to hit the burnout pad at Masterton’s Motorplex.

The facility’s secretary, Hollee Wilton, said the Motorplex had definitely seen better crowds in the past, but the lower turnout was somewhat expected given there were at least three significant events in the region happening on the same day.

There were also fewer participants than usual, and some drivers were able to participate twice with a second vehicle.

“We had enough to run an event, but it would have been nice to have a few more.”

The audience that attends the Motorplex is vastly different to what many would expect, she added.

“Most people would expect a whole lot of young ones, but it’s really not.

“We had heaps of families [on Saturday], loads of kids, and that’s quite normal – we usually get a lot of families and all sorts of generations.

“The Motorsport New Zealand age for passengers is 12 years and older.”

Those wishing to participate in the Motorplex’s burnout Smokefest event need to go through a scrutineering process to ensure the vehicle they intend to use is safe, but there is no requirement for it to be registered or warranted.

“We do a safety check, and it really comes down to making sure the steering wheel doesn’t come off in their hand and making sure the brake pedal doesn’t go to the floor,” Motorplex general manager Bob Wilton said.

“We make it so easy.”

Participants are also allowed passengers.

Whether the Motorplex provides a viable alternative venue for ‘boy racers’ to satisfy their desire for skids is another matter, however.

Bob Wilton spoke at January’s public meeting at Gladstone regarding the region’s ‘boy racer’ issue about why they don’t attend burnout events at the Motorplex.

His sentiment hasn’t changed in the interim – he believes those who perform burnouts on public roads are doing so for the “thrill”.

“They do it where they want to and when they want to,” he said.

“They also stand around and try and get as close as they possibly can to the cars.”

The burnout pad at the Motorplex measures 40 metres by 40 metres with a surrounding concrete wall that’s a metre high and a wire fence on top of that.

Bob Wilton said there is no opportunity for spectators to put themselves in harm’s way the way they do on public roads – and as happened on December 30 when a young person believed to be female around 16 years old was hit by a car doing burnouts at the new roundabout at the intersection of State Highway 2 and East Taratahi and Wiltons roads.

Members of the car groups that came to Wairarapa on December 30 have previously asked for more facilities across the country where they can do burnouts as it is considered a legitimate sport, and claimed their events are a ‘safe space’ for people of any gender to participate.

Hollee Wilton noted that two new female drivers hit the burnout pad for the first time at the Motorplex on Saturday – “and they did really well!”

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