The famous motorcycle street racing event has been held annually on Boxing Day since 1951. Around 250 riders compete with up to 10,000 spectators enjoying the thrill of tight racing that street circuits are renowned for.
The Wanganui Motor Cycle Club undertakes the mammoth task of organising, promoting and running the Cemetery Circuit event. The safety of the riders and spectators is paramount and the club recently received a significant grant from NZCT towards new air fences for the event.
“The NZCT funding is crucial for the future of Cemetery Circuit,” says Julie Willacy, spokesperson for the Wanganui Motor Cycle Club. “Without the massive safety measures which the air fences provide to competitors, we may not get Motorcycling New Zealand permits to run the event.”
The use of hay bales for safety is being phased out and the club hopes to eventually use air fences completely for the event’s safety needs. Other community and sporting events in Wanganui will also be able to use the air fences.
Motorcycling is very popular in Wanganui and the club has over 200 members, including some in their 80s. The local community backs Cemetery Circuit every year.
“We have so many businesses that offer support, sponsorship and equipment to help the event,” says Julie. “There are also so many volunteers and helpers that religiously come along every year.”
Cemetery Circuit attracts a lot of famous international riders each year. Past winners include Guy Martin, Michael Dunlop and Connor Cummins. It is the third and final round of the Suzuki International Series, New Zealand’s largest motorcycle series.
The $56,500 grant from NZCT will also help fund the administration needs of the event.
“The support from NZCT is very much appreciated. We have had very good and supportive experiences with them and they are very helpful,” says Julie.