After a couple of false starts due to COVID, the Classic Outback Trial race is set to roar back into life this week, and it will start right here in Parkes.
It is expected to bring around 1000 entrants and support people, and not only will the time-honoured rally be fantastic racing for drivers and spectators, it will help to raise vital funds for prostate cancer awareness and research.
The event has origins dating back to 2009 when it was started in Parkes, and this year there will be just over 50 teams competing for what is an endurance rally for historic (pre-1985) rally cars.
In a coup for the event, one of those cars will be a 1958 Sunbeam Alpine Series 4 that is fitted with 2019 Tesla electric running gear, which is the brainchild of Victorian owner and engineer Michael Wilkinson.
Over the course of seven days, the crews will cover some 680km of competitive stages and 1650km of transport stages, starting this Sunday, March 27.
After running out of Parkes on Tuesday, the teams will end the day at Orange, where they will be based for two nights, before the event finishes at Bathurst on Saturday, April 2.
Excitingly for Parkes residents, be they revheads or just intrigued bystanders, prior to the start on Sunday, the teams will start descending on Parkes on Thursday, with scrutineering to start on the Friday.
On Saturday there will be a welcome ceremony at Parkes League Club, followed by a ceremonial start in Short Street and a 10km prologue to allow the teams to fine-tune their cars. This will take place just off Henry Parkes Drive with plenty of spectator areas for everyone to see the cars close up.
Being one of the few endurance rallies anywhere in the world, there is usually a number of international entries however with COVID creating uncertainty, there is just one overseas entrant - however the car is an absolute beauty. UK-based Kiwi Warren Briggs has entered his beautiful 1965 Mustang for one last tilt - a car he previously sent over for the 2014 and 2016 events.
It is a change of scenery for Warren, who is more used to steering his historic Formula One McLaren around tarmac circuits, instead of the dusty roads of regional NSW.
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Local racing legend Peter O'Donnell, together with Spinifex Recruiting - who O'Donnell is the chairman of - told the Parkes Champion Post it isn't all about the racing, either. O'Donnell, who has competed in many endurance races, including the time-honoured Bathurst 6 and 12 hour races, said it was a chance to help out an important cause to many in Parkes, and indeed the nation.
"I'm normally a circuit racer and have a tight pit crew that look after my car year-round but after a crash I won't be competing this year," said O'Donnell.
"We (Peter and the event organisers) were talking about sponsorship though, and they said 'how about we do something for charity'. I took it to the Parkes Action Club and we decided on the Parkes Prostate Awareness and Support Group.
"They were really keen, so we'll have the Mustang on display (on Friday near Discount Daves), are selling raffle tickets and of course we'll have some prostate cancer stickers on the car. My company will be making a donation, too.
"It is about fundraising of course, but more importantly it is about raising awareness among men about prostate cancer, because it is statistically likely that 10 per cent of participants in the event will require some sort of medical intervention for prostate treatment." O'Donnell said.
O'Donnell said it is a brilliant event to be involved in.
"There is a huge amount of camaraderie amongst the crews, everyone wants to win of course, but it's really about finishing and competing what is a hard event."
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