“I wouldn’t say it’s fun.”
John McCredie is the media manager for the North Shore Sporting Car Club (NSSCC) and he and the rest of the team have spent the past few weeks scouting the forests around Batemans Bay for roads that haven’t been turned into either muddy slush or one big pothole.
“The number of headaches we’ve had in trying to make this happen, with all this wet weather,” he muses.
But it’s official: from 10 am this Saturday, 13 August, 70 purebred rally cars will line up at Surfside Reserve near Batemans Bay for the annual Rally of the Bay.
Well, it’s meant to be annual. The last event was 2020 with COVID-19 putting a spanner in the works last year.
“Every time we tried to reschedule it, there was either new restrictions in place or we couldn’t get into a venue,” John says.
The year prior, the Eurobodalla Shire was ravaged by the Black Summer bushfires. But more long hours for the management team meant the rally still went ahead.
“There were some roads we had to avoid because of the burnt trees and other areas that were significantly burnt, but we still ran it,” John says.
The Rally of the Bay fits into Australia’s motorsport calendar as Round 4 of the NSW State Rally Championship, a round of the East Coast Classic 2WD and 4WD Rally Series, a round of the NSW Clubman Series, and a round of the NSW Hyundai Series.
John says there have been a few withdrawals but the field will still feature 65 to 70 cars which will go on to attack a variety of roads – including Clyde Ridge Road and the old Princes Highway– until 9 pm.
The traditional start line in Corrigan’s Reserve has been relocated because – you guessed it – the ground is far too soaked. So the flag is set to drop in Surfside Reserve instead.
“We also like to use Runnyford Road, one of the most popular stages of the event, but this year the council is doing a whole lot of repairs to the road because of the wet weather and they’ve asked us not to use it,” John says.
All up, it’s 135 kilometres of competitive racing on dirt and tarmac. And because it’s sponsored by local company Lazer High Performance Lighting, there’s a night stage too.
“They really wanted drivers to try out their laser lights on the black forest roads, so we also have ‘Laser into the night, Heat 2’.”
There might be a few closed roads and lost tourists for a day, but John says the local community is always happy to host the event. After all, 70 teams descending on the hotels, pubs and restaurants for a weekend provides a handsome economic boost to a town that’s been repeatedly hit by the wrong end of the stick for several years now.
“The Eurobodalla Shire Council is very supportive of the event and keen for us to run every year,” he says.
“It’s always very well received by everyone and I don’t see it being any different this year.”
In turn, the Bay is close to their hearts too. While it might have been hard to pull off a rally in 2020, the NCCSS took the opportunity to raise money for residents who lost their homes in the bushfires.
“We raised money to donate to a local community group which was rebuilding houses for people, and we also donated a ute to a company called `The Bay Team’ who were going around rebuilding and repairing houses.”
For more information about the Rally of the Bay – including where best to watch it – visit the NCCSS website.