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Central Otago Motorsport Club president Grant Keen, of Cromwell, said after a crash left two spectators dead at a 1998 street-racing meeting in Queenstown, it had become too hard for clubs to comply with safety regulations and the Cromwell street-race meeting had folded.
But motorsport never died in Cromwell - "it has been simmering away".
Since he started the Cromwell club in 2010, it had quickly grown and members wanted a new racing outlet.
Forty-eight drivers from around the South Island competed one at a time against the clock on the 1.5km circuit yesterday.
While it had taken a lot of work to get the sprints reinstated, Mr Keen said it was "a labour of love".
He has had to work with Motorsport New Zealand, the Central Otago District Council and police and said he was able to comply with all safety regulations, "and more".
As well, he had to "spread the word" to attract competitors and then ensure they enjoyed it so they would return next year.
He said the huge public turnout was also encouraging and that, along with enthusiasm from club members, would ensure the event's future success.