3 November 2023

Rally of Canberra draws closer, but it's still missing some very important people

| James Coleman
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Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra 2023 media launch

Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra volunteer Lyndall Drake. Photo: James Coleman.

Motorsport is an expensive hobby.

“It’s all the safety equipment,” Rally of Canberra (ROC) organiser and former rally driver Adrian Dudok says.

“You’ve got to have the roll cage, the seats, the helmet, and all the other radio devices, and that’s before you buy a car.”

And the car can easily be more than $50,000.

After years of being known as the National Capital Rally, the ‘ROC’ is back from 18 to 19 November, marking a return to the glory days of local rallying. Over 50 cars will vie for the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) title on the dirt tracks of Kowen Forest, Tidbinbilla and the Cotter.

Subaru is back on board as major sponsor through the Subaru Canberra dealership in Phillip.

But making it all happen hasn’t been easy.

“The event runs on a really tight shoestring,” Adrian says.

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The Brindabella Motorsport Club hosts the event and the task force is almost entirely made up of volunteers. The day after news of the rally was announced, Adrian says about 20 people signed up, many of whom had attended rallies in the past and were waiting for just such an opportunity to become more involved. But they need 70 volunteers.

“We’ll make that number, one way or another, because we have to,” he says.

The journey to clerk of the course started for Adrian 35 years ago when he volunteered to man a road closure for the Rally of Canberra.

“They were short of people. I went out and did a road closure and got involved with the guy who was clerk of the course at the time. I’ve worked on every event since then.”

twom men standing next to a car in a showroom

Subaru Canberra general manager Jon Dudok and father Adrian Dudok. Photo: James Coleman.

When they sign up, volunteers enter a draw for gift vouchers from Supercheap Auto and the Antica Ricetta Italian restaurant in Manuka, with other businesses to come on board soon.

One lucky volunteer will also win a two-night stay with Abode Hotels, provided they will travel more than 250 km to make it to the rally and register before 6 pm on 31 October. The winner will be announced on 1 November.

Adrian says it’s also about the experience.

“You’re in the thick of the action, watching it all happen from your own private little spectator point.”

Lyndall Drake, events secretary and headquarters manager, first volunteered for a rally 40 years ago and agrees wholeheartedly.

“All of it’s fantastic,” she says.

“I’ve volunteered for a lot of the events in Canberra because it’s my backyard, but it’s taken me all around Australia, too, and that’s great. And the fantastic thing is you’re welcomed like family wherever you go. That’s just the best feeling.”

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When Lyndall completed high school, her first two bosses were both rally drivers. So even though she didn’t have her driver’s licence at that time, she agreed to go along and see what it was like from the sidelines. That’s when she discovered volunteering could get her even closer.

“You can do something like a road closure, which requires basically no knowledge or skill – we give you all the information you need – and you’ve got the option to take photos or video,” she says.

“Or you could be a spectator marshal, which is a great opportunity to speak to other people in the public and get them enthused and their enthusiasm rubs off on you.”

Lyndall says the gender split of volunteers isn’t what you might expect.

“It may be a surprise to some, but gender-wise, it’s roughly 50-50 between males and females,” she says.

“The number of females has increased a little bit over the years, but to be honest, it’s always been really strong.”

Rally car in action

The view from your very own spectator point. Photos: Subaru Canberra Rally of Canberra, Facebook.

The Rally of Canberra takes in 180 kilometres, or 12 stages, of forest tracks on the east and west of the ACT, with a service point located at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC). There are volunteer positions available at nearly every point.

“There are a range of jobs – road closures, headquarters, communications, radios – there’s a job that suits every skill set and where you’d like to be, whether it’s in the weather or out of the weather,” Lyndall says.

“There’s no attitude and no chips on anyone’s shoulder. All the drivers and navigators are genuinely so thankful you’re there helping them, and they show it and talk to you.”

Volunteer for the Rally of Canberra online, or email [email protected] for more information.

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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