Anticipation builds ahead of iconic event

| Photographer Credit: Philip Kavermann

With just a few short days to go, anticipation is building ahead of the 25th Anniversary running of the Paeroa Battle of the Streets.

Sunday 21st February will see the sleepy Thames Valley township swell in numbers, with a race-day influx of competitors and spectators for the annual motorcycle street races that have come to be an iconic fixture – both within the region, and on the wider sporting calendar.
Crowds in excess of 10,000 are not uncommon, and Sunday is expected to be no exception.

After two problematic years, the Paeroa Promotions Trust are seeking to restore the mana the event holds within the motorcycling, and wider communities – both of whom have enjoyed its success since first being run as “Thunder On The Plains” on Sunday, February 23, 1992.

2014 saw the event shortened, following a major oil-down on the circuit mid-event. A timely clean-up was not possible, to a standard that would have made racing safe for the balance of the event.

Then in 2015, adverse weather affected the racing for the first time in the 24 year history of the event, with forecast rain across the day leaving no option but to cancel the meeting on race morning.

Safety – of both competitors and the public – is the paramount consideration, particularly in an environment as challenging as the Paeroa street event.
At 1.52 km in length, the lap happens very quickly. Not a surprise when speeds in excess of 240km/h are achieved along the main straight.
That is the challenge of Paeroa, and is why the crème of New Zealand’s road-race talent continue to be drawn to this very fast road circuit, joined regularly by a trickle of curious internationals, and a flood of diverse spectators.

2016 is primed for success – for the organisers, competitors and spectators – but even more-so for the community organisations who leverage the event to fundraise via their volunteering efforts, providing much of the logistical manpower required to stage the event in the first place.

Commonly referred to as the “hacksaw” – the nickname the circuit assumed due to its shape – Paeroa will on Sunday again offer an opportunity for riders to test themselves against each other, and a unique set of skills that is completely different to those required to be successful on a traditional race circuit.

Personally, I can’t wait for the next 25 ……

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