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Howard's End: Generation Boy Racer

The Christchurch City Council's response to street racers who use Christchurch roads in industrial areas as drag strips and burnout pads has been to establish a burnout pad sub-committee. Maree Howard writes.

Concerned that kids who race cars around Christchurch predominately industrial streets and reduce traction by pouring liquids such as diesel onto roads, Council's burnout pad sub-committee had hoped to have a burnout pad operating at Ruapuna before it introduced tough new by-laws.

This has been impossible because of delays in obtaining resource consents, says Cr Ingrid Stonhill, chairwoman of the burnout pad sub-committee.

Yeah, right!

I always thought Ruapuna was already a designated raceway.

And I wonder how much money in meeting allowances these burnout sub-committee members receive from ratepayers in order for them to deliberate?

And, of course, there will likely be the cups of tea, the sandwiches and all the other niceties of life provided to them as they spend their day cursing the youth of their district for doing things which the committee members probably did themselves in their youth.

But not satisfied with that, the Christchurch City Council has gone one step further and introduced by-laws which have seen fines of more than $15,000 already issued to people caught flouting the law.

Under the new by-law police are also able to issue infringement notices to the hundreds of youths who turn up to watch the racers in action. Each infringement notice carried a $750 fine and infringement fee.

But wait, there's more.

"If they persist in breaking the law, they will be done for disobedience and could end up spending 10 days in prison, says Cr Denis O'Rourke.

"The city council is prepared and will in fact obtain an injunction from the court against the worst offenders, he said.

Cr O'Rourke said the city council had taken the lead in combating hoons but it needed the Government to come to the party. He wants to extend police powers so racers vehicles could be impounded for up to a month.

We all saw the result of that draconian attitude on TV earlier this week. The kids just laughed and tore up the infringement notices and merrily went on their way.

Hey, listen up!

I come from the 1956 FJ Holden era.

Lowered, flames painted on the side, lukey mufflers, coloured fluro lights underneath which pulsed to the beat of the Beach Boys, carb breathers poking out of the bonnet. Get the picture!

We cruised up and down the streets, laid rubber and raced as well. We were called by the quaint name "bodgies and widgies" by the old fart city fathers.

And I can still remember Steve of Ford Customline fame. He chained the back wheel of this guys all-chromed Triumph motorbike to a fire hydrant while the guy was in the milkbar chatting up us chicks.

Well, you can imagine the mess when this guy ambles out of the milkbar with his brylcreem slicked hair-do, polished leather jacket and boots, stepped over the bike, kicked-started it, put it into first gear, accelerated - and Wham! - Goodbye back wheel which left this slick guy and his new-found milkbar girlfriend sitting on their backsides on the road while the bike munched itself up into pieces.

I didn't like his girlfriend anyway - she was a bitch from my school class.

John Travolta, Grease and Saturday Night Fever had nothing on us lot.

OK, street racing and burnouts can be dangerous, but the kids urgently deserve somewhere to let off steam rather than some city Councillors wanking themselves with words over their own self importance.


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