After watching the segment I had a great deal of mixed emotions and frustration.
Firstly, I was disappointed that the footage existed in the first place. It is all too common that when a minority does the wrong thing, the majority gets tarred with their actions. When will people learn? To counteract that, I was as equally frustrated at ACA for giving the behaviour air time. It would seem that the constant “hoon” segments are being counterproductive and creating a small group of people who seem to want to do the wrong thing just to get their 5 minutes of fame on ACA.
Do I agree with a business using footage of illegal behaviour to gather interest? Not really. However, providing that they are not the ones breaking the law in the video then there is nothing illegal in doing so. How is it any different than ACA using these videos to promote their stories and to create little polls which have questionable results?
In the following segment, one of ACA’s journalists was filmed in car whilst driving. As the film rolls on, the journalist is looking at the camera rather than the road. There was some interesting evidence given to the Senate Inquiry into Aspects of Road Safety by Victoria Police. It says:
“The normal population within Victoria are the ones that are driving our road toll. They are the ones we need to effect. We have a much smaller percentage of trouble drivers, or high-risk drivers, but they cause a greater percentage in road trauma than they are. The studies indicate that around 83 per cent—this was in Israel, but there are similar amounts in Victoria—are normal drivers: you and me, mum and dad. The other 17 per cent are caused by six per cent of our drivers, and they are the troublemakers—people who just do not understand the rules around road safety.”
This, however, does not justify the actions of someone deciding to turn a residential street into a burnout pad. We are not speaking of a chirp of the tyres on a gear change or a little loss of traction from the lights because of a slightly over enthusiastic right foot. We are speaking of tyre-shredding donuts with a crab walk exit going 50 plus metres up the road while filling a residential street with smoke.
This got me thinking, have I ever done a burnout? Of course! Sitting on my bar is a proud 1st place trophy from a burnout competition I entered a few years ago. It was not the only burnout competition I have ever entered, but I was lucky enough on that particular day to win outright. I warm my tyres before approaching the launching pad when I drag race, it is half the fun of the race. When I compete at hill climbs at the Boisdale hill climb track, I deliberately throw the car into a slide to navigate certain corners at speed, the adrenaline rush is awesome. In my official role as a Senator, I have been for passenger rides in highly modified and fiercely competitive cars specifically built for burnout competitions. The list goes on. But in no way do I support people doing this on the street. The overwhelming majority of car clubs and other motoring enthusiasts are the same.
I am going to make a suggestion. Stop glorifying it with cheap shots in “hoon” stories. Stop pointing out a problem but not offering a solution. If the current thinking is not working, it is time to start thinking differently.
One of the most common things I read in comment sections of these type of reports and stories is “Give us somewhere to go”. There is your answer ACA, the people you are trying to target happily offer a solution.
If the message the media is trying to portray is to keep it off the street, then I agree with you. That is an admirable message to be pushing. But by just pointing out the problem without offering a solution is pointless. I respectfully suggest that with your media reach and influence that you could highlight the safe, legal venues people can attend to get it out of their system at the appropriate place and not on our roads. Point out entry level grass roots motorsport venues and how little the cost can be to start participating. Teach people how to lobby Governments to request for motor sport facilities, even if it is only a “skid pad”, where those who want to fry a tyre can do so on a Saturday night out of harm’s way.
You see, some people enjoy spinning their tyres, so whether you are a fan or not, you will never stop it. But you can offer the avenue to do so in the correct way and create a culture where even those who used to do it on the street encourage their mates to do the right thing, at the right time and the right place.
That is exactly what I intend to do, to put my money where my mouth is and to lead by example. At this point I would like to introduce “PLTCLY INCRCT” (Politically Incorrect). This is what will be fitted in the number plate slot of a project race car I am going to build to highlight how cheap you can get into motorsport to begin with, then to highlight some of Australia’s world leading aftermarket parts into the future.
The message is simple: Keep It Off The Streets. But rather than just saying it, I will lead by example and show people how to do it.
The car I have chosen for this project is a 1998 VT Holden Calais with a 5.0l V8. The reason I chose this vehicle was simple, for a starting price of $1750 with pretty straight panels, good paint, and a lazy 220,000 ks on the clock it was a great canvas to begin with. Sure it doesn’t have the mighty LS1 engine plant like the Series Two VT, but I don’t mind. There is a certain brand loyalty and a little bit of a patriotic feeling knowing that I have an Aussie built engine to work with. Heck, I would have done it with a little Excel if one popped up at the right moment.
I had a vision of building the vehicle with a blog of total costs then putting it out on the track to show what has been achieved. Will it do any good on the day? I don’t know. But who cares right, at least it will be on a race track, safely away from pedestrians at a fully sanctioned event. Will I be embarrassed if the car doesn’t perform, something breaks or I tap a wall? No, not at all, it is all the more reason to ensure that I am at the right place at the right time. This is also a good reason to go back to the garage and think about the next modification to get the desired result.
Although the car’s initial event or two will be at burnout competitions that will only be short-lasted phase as it becomes a car to be able to hit the drag strip one day, but take corners on a circuit the next. It never will be the fastest or the best handling contender on the track, but it will be specifically built with a strong emphasis on encouraging others to do the same.
To anybody reading this who would like to enter a similar competition but would like to have an opportunity to test your vehicle or your ability first, once a month Gippsland Motorplex https://www.facebook.com/bairnsdale.dragway.1/?fref=ts opens its track for anybody to enter. You can fry as many tyres as they like in a non-competition environment for the cost of the venue to cover their insurance… $70. If you turn up in a $50 E series Falcon destined for the recyclers or a freshly tuned, fully road legal F6 typhoon it doesn’t matter. Everybody who attends is there for the same reason, to have a bit of fun in a safe and legal environment. There is also no better advantage on competition day than to have the pad being one you are already very familiar with. The $70 cost to go as hard as you want from the moment the gates open until the moment they close is a darn side cheaper than getting caught even just once on the streets. Also, and most importantly, it removes the risk of taking another life. You certainly cannot place a price on the life of another person.
I must admit that I am at a loss as to why many more places like this are not available. How did we get skaters out of shopping malls? You guessed it, there are now skate parks effectively working everywhere.
Imagine that - a series of venues where people can go, out of harm’s way which would inject revenue into the area they are located. That would be offering a solution to a problem, not just pointing one out and doing nothing about it.
To the minority who arrange illegal street events and compete in them, you are not part of the solution, you are a big part of the problem. You are not motoring enthusiasts, you are bloody fools. It is you that deserves to have the full weight of the law enforced on you. I don’t know how many times I hear of innocent, law abiding motoring enthusiasts who attend fully sanctioned events feeling like they were targeted by authorities when they leave. People attending fully sanctioned events are not the problem, it’s the small group of fools who arrange and enter ILLEGAL STREET events. The simple fact is, this behavior is not representative of racers who legally participate in drag racing, drifting, circuit racing, hill climbs, historic rallies, and every other form of motorsport, even burnout competitions.
It is high time the media stopped calling illegal street racing “drag racing”. It is not. It is irresponsible and reckless behaviour that has no place on our streets. It is not drifting, it is not drag racing the simple terminology is it is “illegal street racing”. Do not refer to it as a legally recognised sport which thousands of Australian citizens participate in.
Below is a meme in which I saw start doing the rounds on social media. It appeared to start from someone involved in drag racing or the associated industries which are supported from it. It is not fair to tar the law abiding with the actions of those who do the wrong thing. So let’s get the message out there that real enthusiasts want to enjoy their family-friendly lifestyle for a very long time. Let’s make the message clear to those who partake in “illegal street racing”. We have no time for it, let’s assist the authorities in targeting them, not law abiding enthusiasts. Those of us who are real enthusiasts should put our differences aside, unite and let governments across Australia know that there is a huge social and economic benefit from having a strong motoring culture, motorsports and motorsport facilities. Not just for high-end motorsport either. Importantly we also need to focus on grassroots motorsport which is generally very affordable to get into. This is the gateway for bigger and better things, everything and everyone has to start somewhere.
Not all motoring enthusiasts enjoy, or even perform, burnouts. Many have no interest, plenty don’t even compete in motorsport. So to portray an image that anybody with a well-maintained, modified, personalised or well-restored vehicle is a “hoon” is border-line slanderous. The problem is never the vehicle, it is the nut behind the wheel!
I think it is time media and our political leaders started promoting the hard work that many responsible car clubs, individuals and event organisers put in to creating facilities and venues for motorsport. So many people volunteer for driver education programs at tracks, push a strong keep it off the streets message with so many clubs and events donating thousands upon thousands to charities every year. It is time Governments contribute towards creating more venues adding to the 2.6 billion dollars and 16,000-plus full time jobs motorsport already contributes to the economy. The value add through the $13 billion aftermarket industry would also help an already thriving industry grow assisting in skills transfer once automotive manufacturing ceases in Australia.
The reality is, that’s the “real” business of burnouts.
Watch this blog into the future for more general talk and a great deal of detail in relation to the build and debut of PLTCLY INCRCT.
In the meantime, for the love of God, KEEP IT OFF THE STREETS!