Frosty start for keen drivers

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Peggy Barrett has owned her 1977 Datsun 120Y for 11 years.

Motoring enthusiasts lined up for a speed fix in the Ashburton Car Club’s grass motorkhana.

It was the first post-lockdown event and a fun day for members, and members of the public, before the club’s annual Levels Track Day in Timaru this Saturday.

The motorkhana was held at the club’s grounds on Wakelins Road last Sunday.

An attempted break-in over lockdown of the clubhouse, now being investigated by the Police, did little to dampen members’ spirits with near-perfect conditions on the day for members to let off steam.

Ashburton Car Club vice-president Daniel Tew said 19 drivers signed up on the day, keen to get behind the wheel and show their skills on the grass course.

They included a mix of car club members as well as members of the public, some of whom had come especially for the event from outside the district. “We had 19 entries … which is pretty good.”

The event, run out the back of the clubrooms, was a basic car course suitable for drivers aged 12 years and older.

It was a family-friendly event, but most taking part were seasoned drivers keen to blow off the cobwebs on their vehicles. They included Datsun drivers Brian Taylor in his rust-orange coloured Datsun, and Peggy Barrett in her yellow 1977 Datsun 120Y.

Mr Taylor’s vehicle is a work in progress that’s been sitting in his garage for the past 15 years but Mrs Barrett’s bright yellow model was bought 11 years ago and is still in mint condition. She does some of the maintenance herself.

“Growing up I had trucks instead of dolls,” she jokes. It was not her ideal car but the 1200cc model was affordable at the time and she has no plans to sell it just yet.

Mr Tew said all vehicles in the motorkhana needed to be road legal. Those taking part dated from the through to the latest model Subarus.

While it was a fun event, it tested the driving skill of each participant as they took on three courses, three times each to try to improve their time without penalties.

The event started on a thickly-frosted ground which became more slippery and tested skills. Drivers started on a basic zig zag course, before advancing to skids and donuts and then ending the day with a mini-race.

– by Toni Williams