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.
"I use to out every night doing burnouts, but now I come here every month instead and you get it out of your system for 80 bucks. Highway Patrol is here, smiling.”
Another big brash local skidder, CJ, agrees. “I’ve been competing on the pad since it opened. It’s stopped a lot of the street skidding,” he says.
“It’s fun, and you get your adrenalin up and it’s great stress relief. I use $200 coloured-smoke tyres or I get my tyres from a few people, like scrap metal dealers. They’re happy to donate them because they are no longer street legal.”
Sergeant Morrison grew up around cars and has been a policeman for 31 years.
“I’ve seen a lot of the negative side of injuries and death, the ramifications on family members. None of us wants it to happen but it does. This is a way to have a positive influence and to stop that in some way.
“Being heavy-handed doesn’t always work. Colin and the other founders have done a great job. The benefits are really good and we can teach kids how to drive well out at the track. There are a lot of positive stories out of this.”
What RACV says
RACV acknowledges that irresponsible driving is a real problem for some communities.
The behaviours discussed in this story should only be done in a closed and supervised environment.
RACV manager road user behaviour Melinda Spiteri says: “Skidding and doing burnouts on public roads and in public spaces is illegal, irresponsible and extremely dangerous and can result in drivers, passengers, pedestrians and other road users being seriously injured or killed.”