Car burnout ambitions ignited safely
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Tararua District councillor Ernie Christison admits he's probably one of Tararua's oldest boy racers and knows where our young people are coming from when they ask for somewhere legal to burn rubber.
One of the holders of the youth portfolio for the district council, Mr Christison was searching for somewhere safe and legal for young people to do burnouts and found it on his own back door.
He has opened up his Rua Roa yard, with more than 30 people there last Wednesday night for the intoxicating elixir of burning rubber, smoke and adrenalin at the 12m by 15m concrete pad.
"The kids can burn a bit of rubber, have a sausage and a chat and everyone who leaves here goes home with a sober driver," Mr Christison said.
"My workshop is open and they can use all the tools as well."
And a story on the Dannevirke page of Hawke's Bay Today last week also created interest in the issue from Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, who interviewed Mr Christison last Thursday morning.
"He sounds like a good councillor to me," Hosking said.
Now Seven Sharp has asked Mr Christison if a crew can head down this week and do their own story.
Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis is as passionate as Mr Christison in finding ways to keep the young people in the district.
"This is a great idea, it's safe and keeping these young people off our streets," she said.
"These kids just want to keep out of trouble. They've got jobs and have a need for speed. It's lovely to see the smiles and see them engaging. They are good, young adults."
Having a burnout spot was motivation for the young people to get their cars going.
"This is something different and out of the way of the cops and gives us a chance once a week to burn rubber, so we can resist the temptation to go out on the roads," one said.
Stacey Torr was one driver in the hot seat on Wednesday night, but told the Dannevirke News it still felt like a chilled-out session.
"You have to have your wits about you, though," he said.
And Kyle Berkahn said the young people appreciated what Mr Christison had done for them.
"He's been real good to us and it's great to be given somewhere to go," he said.
"We had nowhere to go and this is a safe place with Ernie looking over us and it's only going to grow."
With sign-in and a compulsory read of the rules and a closed gate, safety is paramount at the Rua Roa site and Daryl Hansen said Mr Christison was doing a great job in keeping young people such as himself off the streets.
It was the first look at a burnout for Amy Gallagher, but she said she'd be keen to give it a go.
"If I had the right vehicle and knowing this is a safe environment, I'd try it," she said.
Mrs Collis said she had talked with Mr Christison and he understood what was required to keep the burnout nights running.
"We've talked about a resource consent, first aid and properly informing the neighbours out here," she said.
Mr Christison picked up a resource consent form last Thursday and has also notified Dannevirke police of his intentions.
"From this week it will be compulsory for the kids to wear protective glasses and they've come up with a set of rules themselves," he said.
"Dannevirke's Bridgestone Tyres have donated $200 for the safety glasses, which is wonderful.
"I'm also overwhelmed by the support from Tracey [Collis]. The Tararua has the chance to lead on this. I'm just answering the call of the kids."
With the closest legal skid pads at Hastings and Masterton and a $50 entry fee, there are few options for our young people.
"We can't even get there because our cars aren't roadworthy," Stacey said.
Cars not roadworthy are kept at Mr Christison's Rua Roa yard, but he will help the young ones build A-frames so they can tow them when required.
And while Mrs Collis learned of the technique for a good burnout - holding the car "pinned" on full lock and the foot down on the gas - she wasn't about to give it a go.
"I had complaints from the kids about driving Phil Hartridge's little Fonterra milk train too slow at the picnic after Woodville's Christmas parade," she said.
Even parents were arriving to see what their kids were up to, some parking outside, while others such as Dave Donaldson went inside for a closer look.
"Where do old cars go to die? Here, by the looks of it," he said.
- Christine McKay, Hawke's Bay Today