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Drivers say closure of drift park ‘doesn’t make any sense’

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If it happened on a suburban street it would be considered hooning, but on a designated track, the controlled driving technique known in motorsports as “drifting” is legal.

More than 20,000 people have petitioned Brisbane City Council to save Queensland’s only dedicated drift park from a “ridiculous” council decision that would force it to close its doors next month.

The Archerfield Drift Park in Brisbane’s south, which is operated in the car park of the Archerfield Speedway, has been hosting drifting events on the purpose-built asphalt track for at least four years.

But in recent months the council has ordered the speedway to stop using the space for anything other than car parking by the end of January, citing noise complaints and zoning approvals at the venue.

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Speedway owner John Kelly said council had found a “loophole” to stop him from hiring out the area at his discretion.

“They’ve been pursuing us for a number of years on any technicality to do with noise,” he said.

“They’ve now found a loophole — saying ‘your carpark can’t be used for anything else but a carpark because that’s what was put in place in 1978’.

“It’s going to open up a can of worms for a lot of businesses throughout Brisbane who utilise their carpark for more than just parking.”

The manager of the drift park, Luke Fink, who leased the area from Mr Kelly, said he was “devastated”, and the decision would ultimately force them to close.

Manager Luke Fink, with local driver Loki Kuroi, said he feared closing the drift park would lead to more dangerous driving on suburban roads.(ABC News: Talissa Siganto)

Closure keeping hoons off streets

Mr Fink said he feared closing the drift park would lead to more dangerous driving on suburban roads.

“We’re fighting such a big fight against hooning and we’re huge advocates for taking it off the street,” Mr Fink said.

“But I can’t sugar coat it … some of them will do that [hoon] because you’re not just taking away a hobby, it’s taking away a lifestyle.”

In less than a week, an online petition to try to keep the drift park in its current location has garnered more than 25,000 signatures.

Track at Archerfield Drift Park on Brisbane's southside.
Speedway owner John Kelly said council had found a “loophole” to stop him from hiring out the area at his discretion.(ABC News: Talissa Siganto)

In a statement, a spokesman said council understood “the important role of this sporting venue for many people”.

“We will continue to work with the owner,” the statement said.

The council spokesman said meetings were being held between council officers, Mr Kelly and Mr Fink, to “resolve this issue”.

On social media, council staff told supporters who voiced their concerns: “Drifting can continue to take place on the existing speedway track.”

Mr Fink said the suggestion to move the events to the neighbouring off-road track was “mind-blowing” and “very out of touch”.

“We drift on bitumen and on concrete — we don’t drift on dirt … it’s a totally different sport,” he said.

Three cars at a drifting event at Archerfield Drift Park on Brisbane's southside.
A council spokesman said meetings were being held between council officers, Mr Kelly and Mr Fink.(Supplied: tongy1970photography)

Drifting ‘huge outlet’ for mental health

Local driver, Loki Kuroi, who attended the drift park weekly, said she believed a “bad stigma” still surrounded drifting and it was not taken seriously.

“Why would you shut down a legal place that is supporting drifting for such ridiculous reasons? It gets people off the streets and gives people somewhere positive to go.

“A lot of the drivers are really angry, confused, frustrated, or stressed out. We have no voice.”

Mr Fink said drifting was a “huge outlet” for many people and the closure would have a damaging impact on their mental health.

“When we reopened after COVID I literally had people crying, hugging me, and thanking me that we’re open again because they needed it so badly — they needed that release,” he said.

“What are they going to do now?”

Two cars race at a drifting event at Archerfield Drift Park on Brisbane's southside.
Mr Fink said drifting was a “huge outlet” for many people and would have a damaging impact on their mental health.(Supplied: tongy1970photography)

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