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VIC: I'm a skilled driver, says 78yo hoon

By Michelle Draper
06 Jan 2009 5:31 PM

MELBOURNE, Jan 6 AAP - A 78-year-old hoon caught speeding at 170km/h on a narrow country road on New Year's Day told police he was a skilled race driver.

Victorian Premier John Brumby, however, was not impressed with John Belfield's claims, labelling Australia's oldest hoon driver an "idiot", while police said he was toying with death.

The septuagenarian was driving a hotted-up red Nissan Pulsar at 170km/h in a 100km/h zone on the winding Brandy Creek Road, Warragul, east of Melbourne when he was caught.

Mr Belfield, from Narre Warren North, told police he raced cars, was a skilled driver and was "enjoying the feel of the road".

His car, and a Nissan Skyline driven by a 36-year-old man, were impounded under the state's anti-hoon laws.

The pair was part of a small group from the Nissan Datsun Sports Owners Club participating in an organised New Year's Day drive from Hallam in Melbourne's south-east.

Club president Karyn Hamer-Finn said the behaviour was not only illegal but went against the club's code of conduct.

The members would be disciplined by the club committee, she said.

"We do have a code of conduct that club members do need to sign, and any breach of that means that they will be dealt with at committee," Ms Hamer-Finn told AAP.

"We're not above the law, no one is."

Mr Brumby said Mr Belfield would be dealt with harshly.

"For this fool, the full force of the law will be applied to him," he said.

"There's not a poorer example to set, it's an appalling example to set for someone of that age. You know, here's a person who'd have children, he'd have grandchildren - what's he thinking when you behave like that.

"The single thing I think would be so great for us to achieve this year as a state would be to get that road toll below 300, and we won't get it with idiots like this who flout the law and set that sort of example."

Acting Sergeant Carlo Visser from Warragul police said the road where the men were nabbed was six metres wide and winding.

"It is disappointing to see a senior member of our community being so irresponsible," he said.

"What example does this set for younger drivers?

"The man expressed to us that he believed he was a skilled driver, and that he races cars.

"But we fail to see how a driver can be competent when they are tearing around roads at 170km/h knowing that other drivers will not be expecting you.

"To put those people's safety - and your own - at such risk is really just toying with death."

Both men paid $600 to retrieve their vehicles from the Warragul impoundment on Monday.

Mr Belfield and the 36-year-old man from Canterbury will appear in court, where they will face fines and licence suspensions.

Previously, the oldest driver to have a car impounded for speeding was a 64-year-old Melbourne man who drove a Porsche at 110km/h in a 60km/h zone.

Police have impounded 42 vehicles in six days from Victorian drivers.