Car club offers up a safe place to unleash steam
When the lamps go on it is commonplace for drivers to turn the once quiet streets of our regional city into their own private Mount Panorama.
It is a noise I have grown used to over a lifetime of V8 television, but each passing screech of tyres brings an instant sense of dread. A fleeting thought of mangled metal and crushed bodies.
The streets of Grafton are not a safe place for drivers pushing their cars beyond necessary limits. But the Grafton Sporting Car Club are offering drivers a place that they can.
The club will host a come and try day welcoming all qualified drivers to have a chance at their Mountain View hillclimb track and it is a timely reminder for lovers of speed there is a safe way to unleash their urges.
The moment I stepped foot on the 968 metre track I felt a rush of adrenaline. It is inescapable. Anyone with a passion for motorsport has had a dream of being on a track and driving full speed.
"Maybe (the event) gets people off the streets, if they want to drive quickly maybe they come here to do it in a safe environment rather than doing it in the middle of Prince St," he said.
"We discourage people pushing it too hard early on - we tell people they don't have to become (former F1 champion) Fangio in the first time around the track, they can get a feel for it first."
The roar of a four cylinder two-litre camshaft engine of a '88 Honda Prelude brought me quickly back to earth as club member Dick Richards tested the newly donated club car.
A two-month project, Hughes' HRT team rebuilt the hillclimb specialised vehicle with the help of local businesses Hession's Auto, Battery Barn, Tyrepower Grafton and Stuart Hall strictly for Sunday's event.
With more than 50 drivers entered for the come and try event Merry is excited by the prospect of bringing more drivers into the sport ahead of the hillclimb season beginning on March 12.
"About half of (the entries) are club members who will throw a passenger seat in their car to take novice drivers around the course to get a feel for the track first," he said.
"But there is probably 30-odd people on day licenses who are not regular competitors here and this will be a first time for them which is exciting.
"This is about learning, about enjoying yourself and about having a good safe day out."
What: Hillclimb come and try day
Where: Mountain View Motorsport Park, Clarence Way
When: Tomorrow; gates open 6am with scruitineering from 7.30am
How much: $30 registration fee, $30 day license