The Pickering Rd roundabout continues to attract crowds of boy racers for burnouts, riling residents who have been weathering the events for four years.
Local Maureen du Toit is the latest local to speak out about the noisy gatherings that began in 2015 with construction of the large roundabout as part of the Waikato Expressway.
In today’s Waikato Times, du Toit described the effect on her and her family of the hordes that gather every Friday night to drift their cars around the roundabout despite measures such as poles embedded in the road to deter them.
The cars had come to Pickering Rd roundabout every Friday since du Toit, 37, moved to the area with her husband Cronje and first daughter last year, she told the newspaper.
She understands the excitement felt by drivers and spectators when the burning rubber fills the air and their cars effortlessly snake around the concrete’s curves.
But when her two-year-old daughter screams blue murder every weekend “at some point you just get so irritated”.
Blown-out tyres litter the roads, with cans scattered between them. Road signs lay on the sidewalks and thick, black lines dance on the asphalt.
A neighbour usually picks up the evidence of their fun, du Toit said.
“It’s a culture. They’ve been here for years … I don’t think it’s going to go away.
“They build skateboard tracks for the kids, build one for these guys.”
Police have photos and number plates of the cars, but are too slow when they’re called or are unable to prosecute the drivers, du Toit said.
Stuff reported on this issue in 2015 when the roundabout was first built. Since then the drifters have continued to come weekly.
When the coliseum-like space was built it had a large barron concrete island where crowds would watch the cars as they drifted around the smooth road in ample street lighting.
The roundabout has since been thinned and plants now decorate the circumference of the island, making it harder to drift around and park on.
But the rubber that traces the road and bleeds into the island’s surface shows that when there’s a will there’s a way.
Du Toit posted her call to action on a community facebook page. A screenshot was taken and posted to popular skid group where car enthusiasts debated the validity of her concerns.
William, 23, – who declined to provide a last name as he’s starting a new business – said the skids are “like another social media” where people from all over the region get together to reconnect with friends.
He disagreed with du Toit’s comments about her children.
“In all honesty the kids should be able to sleep through it. Mine do and when they wake up they watch.”
Some attendees try to clean up before they go, he said, but agreed that others leave a lot of rubbish in the area.
However, William said if residents approach the group rudely they won’t be received well and the skids can get worse.
“If there was an open skid pad for us all, then there wouldn’t be any drama.
“Especially in that area there’s been a couple of times where a couple of my mates have actually been shot at.”
Koni O’Rielly, 22, said the skid scene is stronger than ever, if not five times bigger than it once was.
The police are harder on drivers, O’Rielly said, but that encourages people to make their cars legal, find more secluded burnout spots and reject those who choose to drive dangerously, including drink driving or using drugs.
O’Rielly petitioned for a skid pad to be built for the racers in 2015, gaining 1800 supporters within two days, but was unable to bring it to reality.
“I still think the idea of a skid pad, or just an area to go to, would still be an ideal idea if they are willing to work with us. We are all happy to co-operate with them if it brings us something a lot closer and cheaper than what is already provided at Meremere.”
It costs $2700 to hire the Meremere Dragway skid pad for seven hours and $1470 – $2100 to hire the skid pad at Hampton Downs for eight hours.