As the frost is thaws on a cold morning in inland Canterbury, there's a long drive way, that leads to dirt, dirt.. and more dirt. A yearly gathering is taking place at the far end, here you can find a patchwork of caravans, trucks and the strain of thirty or so self proclaimed "shitty little engines".
For the second year Dirt Masters provides a chance to take quite literally a road less traveled. Self regulating, the home made dirt track holds barely half the riders, while the other half is busy tinkering with performance issues. This is the meeting place of New Zealand's very own Quake City Rumblers - those who have established themselves as the diet pepsi of tough guys on two wheels.
As the crew takes a break the morning of day one, thirty pairs of boots trample in the grass and mud for the initial track walk. The general rule of advice thrown around here is “Avoid stumps and avoid death, or don’t that’ll be kinda funny". Hopefully this year won’t result in the broken bones of last year.
The weapons of choice are initially made for asphalt. Oil burners, chinese repowers & small dirt bikes. The stuff that gives a good howl of 50cc strain under the weight middle age men. In each class a consortium of hack jobs, shitty welds and denim vests. If they still happen to have suspension, its probably not functioning all that well. But hey, most of the tyres have been swapped out for something that will get them around at least a few laps unscathed.
It’s far from a science, the bikes are anything but well matched, and it's the fast that win.
As the track started to dry out under the low sun, spectators, their friends and families start to gather. A couch on the back of a pickup or a chair close to the side lines are the prime viewing points. Wherever the danger of a wayward rider coming into contact is most real.
With wrenches, BBQ's and grinding metal sounding brings the afternoon. The first spark from a lighter brings the flame-ball start-finish line to life, and you know races are about to get under way.
In the haze of the petrol burning at the flag-girls feet, the ground trembles with a dozen bikes.
Not one to be deterred by the antics of his men, the president punches it and crosses the line in first.
It all leads up to this, the final “All In” race. It's every bike for themselves, be if two, three or four wheels. Not even the revelation of the studded bra covering the the flag girl can hold back the terror of one final shred to ensure the track goes out in as much chaos as possible.
As daylight falls behind the Southern Alps, the moon is dwarfed by the bonfire, which is fueled higher by gas poured straight from the bucket of a digger. The paddock now sits discarded with only a single track remaining intact, there's broken bones, blood, hang overs, and smiles you won't be able to wipe off all year. That's how the Quake City Rumblers do their finest weekends, and that's Dirt Masters 2015.
Words & Photos by Riley Bathurst