‘Kids are going to want to do burnouts’
“I’m 55 now, and had 20 years in Melbourne Highway Patrol, then here. From a policing perspective, kids are going to want to do burn-outs, so why not facilitate it, with a proper venue, so they can do it legally and safely? We’ve got them in a safe environment where they won’t hurt themselves or anybody else.”
Sergeant Morrison says being a regular at the Motorsport Complex has enabled him to build strong relationships with the local youth, building bridges between the law and potential problem drivers.
“We fly the flag for the Police Car Club, because we’re into cars as well. They are very open with me. We’ll still impound their cars for doing the wrong thing, but the stats for that are pretty low compared with the rest of the state.
“It’s a heavy hit, though. You’re talking $1443 later, and the court costs, and a fee to get it back from the yard. Or $80 to do it legally at the club.”
A streetful of skidders
And this is why on a recent drizzly Saturday night, you could see a super-charged little yellow car called Minion, which had caught fire twice in two days while skidding, now driving along the main street of Bairnsdale next to a police car, without incident; in fact, the main street is full of rumbling burn-out cars ranging from $200,000 masterpieces to budget-buy Holdens and Fords home-tinkered into skidding machines.
The band Donz Party was playing in the rotunda and drivers mixed with locals, all talking about cars. This was Bairnsdale greeting the community of skidders of which many of the young would-be problem-driving youths of the town are law-abiding, paid-up members.
Matty Jonkers, 23, admits to being one of those set straight by skidding. His backroad burnouts had him on the police watch list by the time he was 15. It was only when he was invited out to the Motorsport Complex and realised he could do the same thing with the encouragement and blessing of Highway Patrol police like Dwayne Morrison, that he realised his troubles were over.
“I’ve had more burnout cars than street cars,” Matty says. “It took the police more than a year to realise I had changed my ways. I love the attention (of performing). You get out there and all your nerves just go.