Petrolhead heaven as race returns

Club Sports . . . Bill and Sharon Bazely, president and secretary of the Lawrence Quarter Mile Club at the Wetherstons Straight ‘‘drag strip’’. PHOTO: CLUTHA LEADER

Petrolhead heaven grids up on April 1 as the Lawrence Quarter-Mile Drags returns for its 30th outing.

Lawrence Quarter Mile Club president Bill Bazley said more than 60 competitors turned out for the 27th run of the 402m sprint along the town outskirts’ Wetherstons Straight, in perfect, dry and sunny conditions in 2019.

Blitzing the track that year was Mike Scholten of Dunedin, who recorded the fastest overall time of 10.47sec in his Mitsubishi Evo.

Perennial Gore contender Eric Eaves came a close second, in 10.49sec, and Milton Corvette maestro Steve McLay third, in 11.44sec.

‘‘We’ve had 30 to 40 expressions of interest so far for 2023, but outside of health and safety we like to run an informal drag race here in Lawrence and we’re used to late responders and last minute registrations on the day.’’

In keeping with the informality, Bill estimated Lawrence’s annual, raw-power motorsport event first kicked off in 1993, and was only skipped due to Covid complications.

‘‘Organisation, things like applying for the roads to be closed and controlled takes time and money, so instead of risking all that effort against a sudden restriction we waited it out, and now we’re back and roaring to go.

‘‘We all like to experiment and demonstrate the top-end power of our vehicles, but back in the early 90s there was a surge in youngsters racing each other and revving up on the local streets, so it seemed like a wise idea to channel that energy into something responsibly supervised. We had about three dozen entries that first year and it grew from there.’’

The record so far was 101 entries at the drag-day eight years ago, and the Lawrence Quarter-Mile is well established as a big fundraiser for worthy causes in the district.

‘‘Since we began we have raised on average over $3000 a year to local services here.

‘‘We like to help the local community hospital, the St John ambulance service and the volunteer fire brigades in Lawrence and Waitahuna,’’ Mr Bazely said.

New angle . . . A classic Commodore weaves its way to the start line. PHOTO: CLUTHA LEADER FILES