A Kiwi driving ace has admitted disbelief that he got permission for a high-speed promotional stunt on the Wakatipu’s Crown Range.
Drift car racer ‘Mad’ Mike Whiddett was stunned his sponsors landed permission to allow him to ‘Conquer the Crown’.
The Auckland drift car racer used his spellbinding sideways skills to blast up Queenstown’s iconic twisty Crown Range in April.
Whiddett hit speeds of 232kmh in a heavily-modified machine for a three-minute short film – now viewed at least 430,000 times online.
“The consent from the local council and mayor would be impossible,” Whiddett recently told Red Bull’s website.
“Well that’s what I thought anyway.”
To negotiate the road’s 47 corners and hairpin bends, Whiddett uses a combination of handbrake and accelerator stomping, maximising the car’s 750bhp to send the wheels into a spinning frenzy.
Tourism bosses and locals have been delighted with international coverage sparked by the stunt, showcasing the adventure capital’s spectacular scenery.
But the ribbons of thick black rubber marks Whiddett left behind on 10km of New Zealand’s highest paved road have angered others.
Queenstown tour coach driver Norm Dolamore told Mountain Scene a few weeks ago he was fuming Queenstown’s council had given permission, believing the tyre marks could encourage others to drive dangerously.
“Quite frankly, it’s going to give encouragement to people to go up and try to do exactly the same lines that they’ve done,” Dolamore says.
“When you’ve got drift marks on the wrong side of the road, to me that’s saying ‘it’s ok’.”
Whiddett himself says such marks were one of the reasons he believed they might be denied permission.
“It sure could make things confusing for tourists wondering if they should follow the white, the yellow or all the black lines the burnt rubber would leave from the base to the summit,” he told the website.
Council spokeswoman Meaghan Miller says the filming brings wider benefits to the region and the rubber will eventually fade, adding that no damage was done.
Whiddett was delighted to drive the road, which was closed during filming.
“For me, having the opportunity to get behind the wheel of my machine, push it to the limit and conquer the Crown is a dream turned into a reality,” he says.
And while the film has more than 10,000 ‘likes’ on YouTube, many viewers were less than happy with its choppy editing.
“Each clip was cut 10 different ways from 10 different angles,” Andrew Carpenter says in the YouTube comments.
“I don’t have ADHD so I can’t watch one view for more than 1.5 seconds.”
Whiddett’s black marks remain on the road.