150km/h without a licence
UNLICENSED drivers as young as 16 could race down a 200-metretarmac strip side-by-side at speeds up to 150 km/h.
Summerland Drags – set to shift into gear on March 27 – allows motoring enthusiasts to pay a fee for the chance to burn rubber, in their own car, down the Casino airstrip.
Promoted by David Lander and endorsed by Richmond Valley Council, the event aims to improve the skills of young drivers.
Cr Owen Crawford, who gave a demonstration in his drag racer at the launch yesterday, hopes car-lovers will use the strip as an alternative to hooning on the roads.
“We want to provide a safe place to race and hopefully that will take some of the speeding off the roads,” Mr Crawford said.
“Compare it to buying a punching bag instead of punching someone.”
The event is in accordance with Australian National Drag Racing Association guidelines.
Drivers can only race a registered and roadworthy car and must wear full-length clothes, shoes and a helmet.
But Mr Crawford is at odds with the only other rule of entry – drivers need only be 16 and do not need to be licensed.
“It concerns me that two kids with basically no road experience could be out there at the same time,” he said.
“Drivers should be on their red P plates at a minimum.”
Manager of strategic planning for the council, Ray Medhurst, signed off on the application and left all responsibility with event organisers.
“They do their own risk assessment and insurance,” Mr Medhurst said.
“That part of the procedure is out of our hands.”
Promoter Mr Lander, who also runs Lismore Speedway, is convinced Summerland Drags is a positive initiative.
“We have been welcomed by the council because young people need to learn about road safety,” Mr Lander said.
“Drag racing allows theaverage young driver to learn to control their car in a variety of situations.”
But road safety advocate Rob Wells doesn’t see it that way.
“Drag strip situations aren’t the common situation you would find yourself in on a country road,” Mr Wells said.
“Kids need to learn to respect other people on the road, not how to go 100 miles an hour on a straight road.
“This won’t equip kids with the driving skills they need.
“It will only give them more bravado.”