Geoff Develin was drag racing at weekends and working in ACT Fire and Rescue, cutting badly injured young drivers out of the wreckage of their modified cars, when the scale of Canberra's issue with illegal street and drag racing really hit home.
"Here I was, building and racing my own drag car, and then heading off to work and getting called out to these awful crash scenes where you just knew the people involved had been racing each other," he said.
"It's a horrific to see. And I would defy anyone who had to attend those crashes and see those things, knowing there could be a solution, and not to grab it with both hands."
Illegal street drags and burnouts have been a persistent problem in the Canberra region for years but the issue reignited a week ago.
And while none of this behaviour comes as any surprise to Mr Develin, the rapid escalation, fuelled by social media, caught ACT police completely unaware.
"This is the exact same issue we had in Canberra years ago," Mr Develin said.
"But we had a solution - or at least an alternative place for these mostly young fellas, with their modified cars - to race in a controlled and safe environment. And it worked."
Mr Develin finds it puzzling that issues around illegal street and drag racing in Canberra keep re-emerging, forcing a drain on police resources, when a proactive approach has shown to be successful here, elsewhere in Australia, and around the world.
"This will always be an issue until we take the smart approach, and take this activity off the street," he said.
Together with seven other investors, in 1992 Mr Develin tipped his own cash into building the Canberra International Dragway, without any financial assistance from the ACT government.
It was a one-eight mile strip, which although not the traditional quarter-mile favoured by the drag-racing fraternity, was sufficient to set the wheels in motion.
One of the dragway's biggest attractions, although they were never a great profit-maker, were the street meets.
"During summer months we would have 70 or 80 people bringing their street cars out to race against each other on the drag strip," Mr Develin said.
A group of police officers even built their own drag car and would bring it out to race the locals.
It was a private enterprise, but given the unofficial support of the ACT police executive.
Similar programs, called Beat The Heat, have been hugely successful in the US, and other drag strips around Australia.
Beat the Heat, which was founded in the US in 1992, has encouraged drivers to take on off-duty police and other first-responders at sanctioned drag-strip events.
A 2010 Queensland University of Technology research paper found a purely legal approach to reducing hooning activity was unlikely to be successful.
Mr Develin said he was supportive of police efforts to prevent people from behaving dangerously on the roads.
"But I also have the view that as a society we can't take the moral high ground and condemn these young drivers and take their cars off them without giving them somewhere to express themselves," he said.
A 2017 petition on change.org to reopen the Canberra drag strip attracted 3500 supporters. Mr Develin said that for between $1.5 and $2 million, the former strip near the airport could be resurfaced and reopened for street meetings.
"It's not a difficult project to get up and running; I still have the drag racing timing lights, which cost us $250,000, sitting in my shed," he said.
"The government needs to get smarter about tackling this issue and there's a solution right in front of them.
"The NSW government spent $33.4 million in 2019 on funding the building of the Western Sydney dragway. They've done the numbers, they know the benefits and they've made the investment.
"It's an investment in saving lives."