This refers to the main street of the tiny Thames Valley town of Paeroa, where a huge team of volunteer workers position straw bales and plastic barriers to turn the main shopping centre into a battleground for bike racers.
And, once again road code will be thrown out the window for one day, and that day is this coming Sunday, February 17.
Each year hundreds of motorcyclists flood into Paeroa, at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula, with the sole intention of flouting the nation’s road laws, racing at speeds of more than 270kmph down Paeroa’s main street, ignoring stop signals, failing to give way and swerving across the centre lines at every opportunity.
Thousands of spectators typically enjoy the sporting occasion under a typically blazing sky, a day that usually runs like clockwork from the 7.30am riders’ briefing, right through the packed race programme that started at 11.30am, to the finish at about 5pm.
Auckland’s Karl Morgan was in sensational form in the 600cc class at last year’s the 21st annual Battle of the Streets race meeting in Paeroa and the question being asked now is can he repeat the feat on a 1000cc superbike at the 22nd annual Paeroa races this coming weekend?
The then 24-year-old Ray Clee Motorsports Team rider overcame problems in qualifying to dominate the Formula Two class at last year’s Mobil 1-sponsored event.
When a gear lever broke early in the day, he had to accept an unaccustomed 12th overall in qualifying and this put him a long way back on the starting grid.
He then bounced back in the best way possible, taking his Suzuki GSX-R600 to run away to convincing wins in both F2 outings on the hot Sunday afternoon.
It ended up as a Suzuki 1-2-3 in the F2 class with 25-year-old Whanganui rider Ashley Payne finishing runner-up and fellow Whanganui man Jayden Carrick third overall.
“I think you have to ride relaxed in street racing,” Morgan explains. “It’s a bit like motocross because the roads can be quite rough. There are lots of bumps. I was just holding on tight. I had a few scary moments but that’s typical in street racing.”
So can Morgan perform similar feats in the formula one superbike class this time around?
Of course he’ll be up against some of the best big bike riders in the business.
Australian Dan Stauffer won both the formula one races at Paeroa last year, the Yamaha ace finishing the day ahead of Christchurch Honda rider Ryan Hampton and Hawera’s Hayden Fitzgerald, with out-of-retirement Tony Rees, of Whakatane, finishing fourth overall.
Stauffer also won the 10-lap King of the Streets feature race, this time finishing ahead of a hard-charging Rees, who took his Yamaha through the field and snatch runner-up spot just two laps from the finish.
Stauffer won’t be racing at Paeroa this year but Hampton, Fitzgerald and Rees are expected to compete, albeit on different bikes this time around. Hampton returns on a Honda, but Fitzgerald is now on a Suzuki and Rees comes to Paeroa on a Honda this year.
Picking a formula one class winner from this bunch is anyone’s guess, especially when you add in last year’s 600cc class street race winner Morgan, Wellington BMW rider Sloan Frost, Auckland Suzuki star Ray Clee and Hamilton Kawasaki ace Nick Cole also as possible contenders.
Perhaps also nine-time national superbike champion Andrew Stroud (Suzuki) will be back from injury to delight the crowds again this season.
Other winners last year were Taupo’s Scott Moir (Honda) and Palmerston North’s Glen Williams (Suzuki) (joint winners of formula three), Moir (Aprilia, super motard), Williams (Bimota, post classics, pre-89), Paraparaumu’s Sean Donnelly (Moto Guzzi, post classics, pre ‘82), Katikati’s Rhys Holmes (BMW, Bears, non-Japanese bikes), Wanganui pair Adam Unsworth and Stu Dawe (Windle, sidecars) and Te Puke pair John Blaymires and Charles Bilby (Moto Guzzi, post classic sidecars).
Can any of these riders repeat the dose this coming Sunday? You’ll have to be there to find out, or perhaps check back in with BikesportNZ.com.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com