Extreme action ahead in 4WD trials
Tough and isolated terrain, mud flying, engines revving, vehicles rolling - the nature of 4x4 racing means the rescue helicopter is never far down the phone list.
For that reason the Manawatu 4WD Club is donating the proceeds of its biggest event in six years this weekend to the Palmerston North rescue helicopter.
The Manawatu Extreme 4x4 trials roar into life on Sunday at 8.30am and go through to 4pm, with more than 70 trucks registered to take on the 33 courses carved out on Mike Dransfield's Turitea land.
Event co-ordinator Stuart Earle said it was one of six trials held throughout the year but it was the first time one had been hosted in Manawatu since 2008.
The close location of the tracks to the city - 10 minutes' drive south of The Square - and their visibility for crowds would set the event apart from other trials around the North Island, he said.
"The planning for this started in March 2013.
"Probably in hindsight we would have picked a weekend away from the Central Districts Field Days but we still think we can get a good crowd. The Wellington event got between 2500 and 3000, and if it's a hot, sunny day, I think we could get to 4000."
Spectators would be able to find a spot on the hill where they could see, in some cases, six or seven courses at once and families could bring a picnic and take in the spectacle from up high.
"Kids love the fact that [the vehicles] have big tyres," Mr Earle said.
"They're full noise, mud flying everywhere. The top machines are worth up to $100,000. It makes the action more extreme than it used to be because the sorts of trucks people are using are just bigger.
"We don't want big rolls but there will be rolls throughout the day."
The Palmerston North rescue helicopter was an obvious choice to be the benefactor, Mr Earle said.
"Of all the people we could have donated to, they're probably the ones we need the most.
"When we're out in the middle of nowhere doing what we do, they're incredibly important."
The entrance to the track is off Harts Rd. Entry is $10 for adults, $5 for children and $20 for a family.