Former boy racer Ben Olsen (21) has turned his life around
after amassing $35,000 in court fines and spending several
months on remand in prison. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
After amassing $35,000 in court fines and spending two
months behind bars, a former boy racer is giving up the
doughnuts and going straight.
Ben Olsen has not driven his beloved Nissan Skyline for a
month, a far cry from the self-confessed car nut who tried to
flee police when driving while disqualified.
''It was basically a dumb idea. I thought if I get stopped
I'm off to jail ... so I tried to get away.''
That incident and a history of driving-related offences
resulted in him being sent to the Otago Corrections Facility
for two months.
As a remand prisoner, he spent 23 hours a day locked in his
cell and, when released on home detention, the 21-year-old
dairy farm worker had a major rethink about his future.
''I just thought, what is the point in driving up and down
the street looking at each other?
''Some say they are car enthusiasts, but only some of them
are. Most are just [doing it] to rebel against the police.''
The Big Cruise drag train, which Mr Olsen organised in
2012. Photo by Craig Baxter.
From the age of 15, Mr Olsen and his mates used to drive
from Milton to Dunedin about 5pm every Thursday, Friday and
Saturday, before returning home about 12 hours later.
Those late-night/early-morning trips would be made in old
Japanese cars, all sporting new rims and with their springs
cut ''to lower them and make them look better''.
However, those cars, complete with passengers who contributed
to fuel costs, made him easy for police to spot. He had only
a learner's licence, so each police stop cost him $1000 in
fines, and when those fines topped $5000 he stopped counting
- or caring.
His court fines, which once totalled $35,000, had now been
paid off following community work, a scheme which he
His change in outlook was inspired in part by a meeting with
Dunedin businessman Nik Black, of tuning and performance
workshop Apet, two years ago.
Mr Olsen had tried to enlist Mr Black's support for the Big
Cruise mass drag train, which he organised in 2012. That
event, which was incident-free, attracted hundreds of boy
racers from around the South Island. Mr Black had not wanted
to take part in a boy-racer event, because he supported legal
Now, the pair hoped to organise a gymkhana, a low-speed drift
track competition in the Dunedin wharf area.
Mr Olsen will meet Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull to discuss the
proposal, and the pair are confident of getting the support
of the Otago Sports Car Club, of which Mr Black is a member.
Mr Olsen said his boy-racer days were behind him.
''I have had my wake-up call.''