Show mower race turns violent

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 05:00 17/01/2011
Mower rage
ANDREW WALLACE

GET OFF THE GRASS: The Lake Hayes A&P Show ride-on mower race held earlier this month erupted into violence.

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Two competitors in a ride-on lawnmower race at Saturday's Lake Hayes A&P Show near Queenstown proved that road rage can happen anywhere, even on grass in front of hundreds of spectators.

The competitive edge of two participants erupted into a punch-up after one shunted another directly after finishing the race.

A witness, on holiday in Queenstown from Christchurch, said yesterday the race was entertaining but, as it deteriorated into a fracas, the watching crowd did not know what to make of it.

"At first everyone thought it was a stunt or something that was being staged," the witness said.

"The race was over and a guy on quite a large machine shunted a guy on a smaller machine sideways.

"The guy on the smaller machine climbed up on to the bigger machine while it was still being shunted and started throwing punches."

The witness estimated about six punches were landed before the man shunting the smaller machine started defending himself and the fight was broken up.

"He had pretty long arms, so the guy was still swinging, but couldn't connect. That's when people started running over to break it up.

"It was lucky the guys involved were wearing helmets."

Many locals in the crowd showed embarrassment that two grown men should fight over something so stupid, while many teenage males egged it on, the witness said.

The two drivers are believed to be an Alexandra lawnmower dealer and a Queenstown lawnmowing contractor.

Lake Hayes A&P Show committee chairman Mike Smith said the punch-up appeared to be the result of a feud between the two men that show organisers were unaware of, and were keen to distance themselves from.

"It looks like a private argument that we know, or knew nothing about. We hate to think that would detract from a wonderful occasion that was enjoyed by several thousand people, and was otherwise our most successful show for six years," he said.

Acting Sergeant Steve Watt yesterday said the incident had not been brought to the attention of Queenstown police.

grant.bryant@stl.co.nz

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