Aves Invasion 3.0 – Inside the Canterbury Street Racing Community

Harry Whitnall

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A mist descended upon the four avenues during the Easter weekend but this was not any ordinary autumn fog, this was a mixture of tire smoke and strawberry flavoured vape juice. It was the beginning of Canterbury Street Racing’s third ‘Aves Invasion’.

Upon arrival, it was quieter than expected, with only the occasional car that looked like it may be participating in the Aves Invasion. My friend, Sam, who had been at a previous event, assured me that the squadrons of street racers came in pockets, and if we kept going we would eventually reach one.

Multiple Skylines, a Subaru WRX, and a Toyota Prius (with a driver who looked like he did not want to be there) were among the automobiles in the pocket we eventually stumbled upon. We were amongst it, the sound of engines revving rattled my humble Subaru Forester.

One of the gathered cars

Very quickly, the momentum from the evening’s growing excitement was brought to a halt by a cop stop, with a line that stretched from the corner of Moorhouse and Fitzgerald Avenues to Washington Skatepark. We slowly crept forward, watching the defeated looks of those whose night was over due to illegal car modifications or intoxication.

To avoid the cop stop, we decided to turn around and drive down the opposite side of the road. We did not get far down Moorhouse Avenue before we spotted a meetup in the Countdown carpark.

We could hear the faint sound of EDM music getting louder and louder the closer we got. We were definitely in the right place.

Everywhere you looked there was a fellow with a Billy Maverick or a Woodstock in hand. Motorcyclists were doing burnouts in front of gathered crowds who were in awe at the sight of the skids. An audience had even set themselves up on the footpath with snacks and camp chairs for front row viewing of the street racing spectacle.

The gathered crowd

I heard one guy tell his mate that he survives solely off “alcohol, marijuana, and sex”. A bold diet choice, perhaps only for the hardiest of Christchurch hoons.

A drag race was expected at every red light. At one point, there was even a classic case of man vs. machine.

Meet up in Countdown Carpark

My eyes were pulled from the road when over the sounds of the many car engines, I heard the voice of a single man with a megaphone. Referred to as Mic-Man in the community, he was the ultimate hype man for anyone willing to do donuts in the Countdown carpark.

Mic-Man’s voice was recognised as the summoning call for the street racers, as the crowd flocked to his lo-fi cries. A human circle was formed around Mic-Man and a Ford Falcon.

The circle was engulfed in a thick cloud of tire smoke, but no one cared as they were simply in the moment, admiring the Falcon being taken to its limits.

Before long, the cops caught on and were forming their own invasion of the Countdown carpark. Mic-man’s calls for everyone to “Stand your ground!”, either were not heard over the car engines and police sirens or were not listened to. As soon as the police showed up, the crowd left, heading back to the aves.

We had not been on the aves for long before the Street Racing Snapchat had a new update… There was a meet up happening at the Tram Road and Bradleys Road intersection.

The cars around us must have received the same message as we all headed out in the same direction. Our squadron became a convoy as we hit the Christchurch Northern Motorway. We were on a mission, a mission to hoon.

It did not take long for the police to catch on, and they had the advantage of not being pulled over when speeding. At one point I thought I was going to get pulled over, but when I swerved into the shoulder of the highway, the police just shot past. The focus was not on speeding Subarus, but rather preventing this meet up from happening.

They succeeded. When we got to the turn off onto Tram Road, we were met with a police blockade directing us back into the city. The police officers’ faces showed how chuffed they were with getting the upper hand as well as disappointment with the youth of Canterbury.

We got back to the Christchurch City Centre, disappointed with the lack of meet up action, when our spirits were lifted once more. Another snapchat was received: there was another meet up at the intersection of Ruru and Maces Road. This was on the other side of town, and the cops were still all the way in Kaiapoi.

The convoy was on the move once again, and this time we made it to the meet up area. There was already a gathering, with the legend himself, Mic-Man right in the middle.

There was much more of a ruckus at this meetup than at the Countdown carpark meetup. Even though I was mainly there to observe, I could not help but receive some second-hand rowdiness.

One by one, committed street racers entered the human circle. Burnouts, donuts, and drifts created yet another cloud of tire smoke. The occasional whiff of a delectable smelling vape cloud provided relief for nasal passages which were being overwhelmed with the smell of burning rubber. People of all ages had gathered (I even saw a few children there) all with a common passion for street racing and skids.

The road was covered in skid marks, and the grass in empty bottles of bourbon and cola. The airy atmosphere created by the night sky and the tire smoke mist came together with the passionate cries of the committed street racers to resemble something out of a renaissance painting. I would call it The Ritual of the Skid Gods’.

Ritual of the Skid Gods

So transfixed with my renaissance fantasy, it took me a while to realise that the police had caught up and formed a wall of vans, cars and officers. This wall was slowly creeping towards the human circle. Worst off all, the police had their own Mic-Man yelling, “Leave now or you will be arrested!”

Police Wall (Move now or you will be arrested)

This may have been intimidating had it not been for the fact that Police Mic-Man sounded more like an angry Dai Henwood than a tough police officer with a temper.

The street racer Mic-Man retaliated with his own megaphone siren and a call for the street racers to once again “Stand your ground”. This time it seemed to work, the street racers stood their ground against the oncoming march of the police line.

I stood back and observed from a distance, but Sam was amongst the action, trying to get the best possible photos of the police vs. street racer antics, truly dedicated to the art of iPhone photography.

Tensions were high as the street racers were starting to form their own line to face the incoming police officers. As the two got closer, street racers began to lose confidence and back off, despite the motivational words of street racer Mic-Man, perhaps they were intimidated by Police Mic-Man’s threats of arrest. I hoped that my lack of a goatee would work in my favour if things turned sour.

The arrival of a fire engine seemed to spook everyone and the crowd eventually dispersed, leaving poor Mic-Man shouting “Stand your ground!” to an increasingly smaller crowd. We headed back to the Forester and back onto the aves.

The street racers heading back to the aves were filled with the adrenalin from the events that had just occurred. Drivers were rhythmically honking their horns, and passengers were leaning out windows drumming on the car roofs.

The initial excitement of the re-entry onto the aves quickly died down as the cops returned yet again. The Invasion was set to last till the morning, but I was ready to call it a night at 3:00 AM. Unlike others, I had not fuelled up on bourbon and cola or energy drinks.

We headed home and parked up the faithful Subaru Forester. She had done well considering she had had the engine light on since August last year.

I went to bed exhausted but with my heart still pumping from adrenalin in my system. I lay there thinking that regardless of how menacing or loud the Canterbury Street Racing community was, they were a group of people with passion. Although they were a cut more on the dangerous side in comparison to your average chess club, it seemed the only intention of their gathering on Christchurch’s four avenues was to share that passion for cars with likeminded people and have a great night.

Photo Credit Sam Annand