Four hours of burnouts at Meeanee Speedway on Saturday have neighbours fuming over the billowing clouds of smoke which drifted across their properties and regional council doubts about what can be done about the problem.
The burnouts, the second $1000 competition rub from promoters Lack-A-Traction on a purpose-built pad they installed at the speedway last year, were monitored by a council environment officer.
But reports concede the council does not have the equipment to properly test the billowing clouds, only "physical" monitoring was possible, and there are questions over whether the clouds are dangerous to health and whether rules which outlaw the burning of tyres in fires actually cover them.
Sandy Rd resident Amanda O'Callaghan, who has lived in the area for about 15 years and whose father-in-law has been an orchardist in the area for a much longer period, said: "If they don't think it's bad, then does that mean we can burn tyres in the orchards. Actually, we can't burn anything."
Kylie Howard, who has also lived in the area for about 15 years and who has been petitioning the rural residents as well as those in Gavin Black St in the Meeanee village, said: "The whole problem is it's at the mercy of the wind. I copped it all on Saturday. If the wind had changed we would have been 30 or 40 people. They [in Gavin Black St] copped it the last time, in November."
Residents say they have no opposition to the speedway, which in most cases was there before they were. One said in his day he'd "burned a bit of rubber".
Ms Howard said she wanted clarification but regional council manager, resource use, Wayne Wright said: "We are not aware of any research that indicates that these burnouts are the cause of any adverse health effects and the DHB has not been able to provide us with any information that would suggest that there are any."
The report from council environment officer Ian Lilburn, who monitored the situation from outside the venue on Saturday, says there is a question over the composition of the smoke "which is quite different in look and smell from a tyre burning over an open fire".
His "google search" explained the friction between tyre and tarmac "superheats" the rubber to as much as 400C, melting the tread and vapourising the chemicals and oil in the compound. The cooling of the molecules and their condensation in the air made the result more like steam than smoke.
Mr Wright said the council would refer the issues to event promoters (Lack-A-Traction), the speedway owners from whom the venue was leased for the events, the Napier City Council and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board "in a manner that keeps everybody happy, especially any residents who have sought to complain about what is happening there".