The Battle of the Streets motorcycle races returns to Paeroa this weekend for the 22nd year offering riders the unique opportunity to races at high speeds around the town’s streets.
A section of State Highway 2 through Paeroa’s main township will be closed from 6am with diversions in place for through traffic.
Action from last year’s Battle of the Streets.
The 1.52km circuit known as the ‘hacksaw’ due to its shape, starts in the main street, before going along Normanby Road into Arney Street, over the hill into Princes Street, before linking with Wharf Street and coming back along straight to the hairpin opposite the Railway Reserve.
Riders reach speeds of 280kph and sidecars close to 220kph along the main straight.
Crowd numbers have grown with the event, starting with an estimated 8000 in 1993, and rising to 13,000-15,000 in recent years.
The event is the largest sporting occasion in the Thames Valley and one of the largest motor sport meetings in New Zealand.
There is a team of more than 100 people on Paeroa’s central streets from 5am on Sunday constructing the circuit and preparing it for the practice sessions.
During the day more than 300 local volunteers work as marshals, security, gatekeepers, crossing marshals, crash recovery, emergency services, race officials and communications, plus numerous other personnel ensure the smooth running of the meeting.
After the last race another army of volunteers dismantles the circuit, the barriers are removed, the deer fencing rolled-up and the hay bales loaded onto trucks and returned to farmers.
The road closure and detour signs are taken down and State Highway 2 and Paeroa’s main street returns to normal by around 6pm.
The first Battle of the Streets meeting in 1992 returned some $12,000 to the clubs, groups and organisations which provide their members as the volunteer workers.
Since then this figure has risen and in 20 years more than $500,000 in donations has gone back into the community.
On race day the two church congregations within the closed circuit area combine their Sunday worship with other churches elsewhere in the town.
Residents who live inside the circuit and wish to leave for the day, have security provided for their properties.
As for the cats, dogs and other pets within the area, accommodation is provided for them away from the noise.
Businesses that provide a seven-day-a-week service make alternative arrangements, the medical centre changes surgery times and has an emergency service in place; temporary bus and taxi stands are provided and arrangements are in place for those local residents who wish to go to their local dairy or supermarket on race day.
Paeroa Police are also urging fans coming to this Sunday’s Battle of the Streets motorcycle races to commit to having a good time, but not at the expense of others.
Sergeant Phil Caldwell of the Paeroa Police says fans will encounter a liquor ban in the town but this was not expected to affect people’s enjoyment of an event that brings a lot not only to Paeroa, but the wider Waikato as well.
"A dispensation exists for alcohol to be consumed within the confines of the race circuit on race day. The event usually attracts a crowd of between 13 - 15,000 people and we want everyone to come away having had a positive experience in Paeroa
"The liquor ban basically covers everywhere in the town within the 50km/h speed zone with the exception of the fenced off race circuit where the dispensation applies."
Mr Caldwell said the area where alcohol can be consumed will be well defined and Police are working closely with race organisers and partners to ensure the day is a success.
"The race circuit will be ringed by six foot high fencing and the organisers have assured us there will be ample signage at all entrances into the venue.
"The main thing is for everyone to enjoy themselves. For those who impact on the enjoyment of others there will be a highly visible Police presence at the venue to clamp down on any alcohol related disorder and anyone involved in this type of behaviour will be asked to leave."
There are 11 classes that run throughout the Mobil 1 Battle of the Streets race meeting in Paeroa: Post Classics – Forgotten Era Pre 1982, Formula 2, Junior Classics, Senior Classics, Formula 3, Formula Paeroa, Sidecars, Post Classic Historic Pre 1972, BEARS, Super Motard and the Robert Holden Memorial Race.