A veteran drag racer killed while racing his dragbike at Meremere Dragway on Saturday afternoon was a keen engineer with a passion for racing.

Lawrence Webster, 66, also known as Laurie, from Pukekohe, died after his bike crashed just at the end of a race during the dragway's third meet of the season.

Emergency services were called to the track on Saturday at 2.42pm, but he died at the scene.

Read more: Fatal motorcycle crash at Meremere Dragway

Advertisement

One of the top drag racer's Ian Wilkins, posted on his company After Burner Racing's Facebook page, that he was struggling to come to terms with the death of a friend of 20 years.

I want to thank the amazing Meremere track staff who were there & helped me as the world dragbike racing turned to hell...

Posted by Afterburner Racing on Saturday, 2 February 2019

In the post, Wilkins thanked the Meremere track staff who helped him "as the world of dragbike racing turned to hell for me this afternoon".

"It's so hard to comprehend what's happened. It can go wrong in an instant. I'm still here but a friend of 20 years is not. I started racing dragbikes 18 years ago and I've had a high speed crash and lived to continue the desire to go crazy speeds, never wanting to stop the pursuit of higher goals with no intent to say enough ...

"Right now, I'm struggling with all of what occurred this afternoon and figuring how to deal with what I experienced. RIP my friend. It's been an absolute blast racing with you and a privilege to have known you."

Wilkins, in another post, said his friend always had a smile whenever they spoke.

"...strangely our favourite topic was dragbikes, the most technical details and mad creations of which you 'professor' were the king of complicated and innovative in every way."

Afterburner Racing had also helped Webster make some key upgrades to his bike and was "confident it was in the best shape it had ever been", according a post on the company's Facebook page from November.

Webster's death has shaken the motor racing community. Dozens of people have sent their wishes to his family via social media and commented about the time and contribution he had made to the sport.

Advertisement

Fellow racer Greg Pratt commented on the Herald's Facebook page that it was a very sad day. "We were in the grid waiting our runs and one of our fellow riders never returned."

"Thoughts go out to the family of a amazing good old boy who helped anyone," another post said.

"To all the racers, we will miss one hell of a racer."

Another friend commented that Webster was an incredible engineer who had built his bike himself.

He was also described on the dragway's Facebook page as clever and generous. "RIP Laurie, gone too soon, but doing what you loved."

Webster had once said he would be happy to go into hibernation until drag season, according to another social media user.

Witness Chris Lee was sitting in the stands and said all they could only see was the pall of smoke and emergency vehicles. His race time was recorded before the crash.

Webster came off his bike at 167mph (269km/h), according to a post by motoring enthusiast Facebook page MotoHub. MotoHub filmed the driver's last race, but not the accident.

"Its a sad and hard day for all that were there. Meremere team are devastated as will be the family."

Another spectator commented on social media that the racer was travelling in excess of 150mph when he reached the finished line and lost control.

Spectators said it was a tragic end to what had otherwise been a good day at the drags.

Meremere Dragway is expected to release a statement about the accident later this evening or tomorrow morning.