Off-street racing plan


Laura Michell and Michaela Meade

The mayor of one north-western suburbs council has floated the idea of creating a place for legal street racing amid concerns hoon activity is on the rise.

Hume mayor Joseph Haweil said he had raised the idea of creating a place for hoons to meet with the council’s sports department.

“There is a location in Hume where we could do that – it’s a dirt park,” he said.

“If they could go there instead of carparks where the public is and where safety concerns arise, that’s great.

“If it means we’re going to get them out of the community causing havoc that’s something I’m wiling to consider.”

The idea was also raised by the organiser of a petition to restore Calder Park raceway to its “former glory”.

Sunbury resident Sarah Allen, who started the petition, called for the drag strip to be opened to the public so “less people…die on the roads from reckless behaviour”.

In recent weeks, communities across Melbourne’s north-west have raised concerns about hoon activity in their suburbs.

The presidents of two Craigieburn sports clubs told Star Weekly they feared for the safety of their junior players, with hoons gathering in the carparks of local sports grounds.

In Hoppers Crossing, residents of the Woodville area warned it is only a matter time before hoon drivers accidentally kill someone in their neighbourhood, with hoons turning the area into “burnout city”.

In February, Brimbank police said there had been a recent increase in hoon behaviour, with police now attending hoon meets multiple times a week.

The comments followed two serious accidents in Delahey and Sunshine during which people were ejected from their cars. Police said the accidents occurred not far from hoon meets.

RMIT criminologist Marietta Martinovic said while creating a space for legal racing would help deter some hoons, it would not completely solve the problem.

“Some [people] will still want that thrill of street racing,” she said.

Dr Martinovic said hoon were predominantly young men aged 25 and under who were “looking for something really exciting in their life” and did not recognise the dangers associated with hoon driving.

She said last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns had likely exacerbated the problem, with many young people seeking a way to pass their time.

“I think what would really work best is not people in their 40s, 50s or 60s thinking about what should be done, but young people in their 20s going out and asking their friends [how to tackle hoon behaviour].”