Battle over use of foam tires at remote-control car club ends up in High Court

A radio-controlled car in action.  (File photo)

Ricky Wilson / Stuff

A radio-controlled car in action. (File photo)

A squabble about the tiny tires on remote-control cars is not the sort of issue the lofty High Court usually wrangles with.

But racing enthusiast Kevin Frewer was so bothered by a Canterbury Radio Control Car Club rule that he applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the club’s decisions.

Frewer fell out with his club about its rule that tires on the class of cars he raced – the one-eighth scale GT class – must be rubber.

The High Court hearing was held in Christchurch in June.

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Two partners from big city law firms, along with a solicitor and senior solicitor, represented the warring parties.

According to court documents, Frewer launched his campaign for foam tires for his car class in 2019. He considered them to be cheaper and more versatile.

Radio-controlled cars in action.  (File photo)


Radio-controlled cars in action. (File photo)

After starting a Facebook page devoted to the cause, he made several overtures to the club in an attempt to change the rules, some through his lawyers.

Matters escalated when the club asked him to sign a document agreeing to conditions before renewing his membership. This requirement was later reversed.

Frewer is a long-term member of the club, which he co-founded in 1975.

Justice Rachel Dunningham noted in her High Court judgment released this month that despite a national move to remove a ban on foam tires for one-eighth scale GT-class cars, a subsequent vote at Frewer’s club did not go his way.

“It seems there may, by then, have been some aversion to Mr Frewer’s ardent promotion of foam tires,” Justice Dunningham said in her judgment.

“Mr Frewer acknowledges that one influential driver had said to other drivers” if it goes to foam, I’m giving up “.

Around 150 participants will race their radio controlled cars at the national championships on a new track. (First published March 2021).

“Mr Frewer also began receiving comments on his Facebook page saying things like he was“ ramming it down people’s throats ”.

The judge declined Frewer’s application for a judicial review.

She was direct in her 22-page decision.

“… I consider the issue is not obviously of such consequence to warrant the Court’s intervention,” the judgment said.

“It involves a relatively trivial dispute over the parameters for participation in a particular class of hobby racing.

“Mr Frewer can still race in that class, albeit using rubber tires … He can still advocate for foam tires as an option.”

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