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4 years ago

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An Australian Cannonball Run in 1984?

johna posted 4 years ago

I must be living under a rock because I have never heard of this race. But apparently in late 1984 a race took place from Sunbury in Victoria to Perth, Western Australia.

Charlie Kovacs, who I have heard of from Ute racing, was first across the line driving (would you believe?) a Holden ute, but according to John Crowle it was disqualified and the official winner was a Holden Commodore VK driven by himself, Ian Bray and a third unknown driver.

However, Kovacs claims to have the winners cheque, which he has framed as a memento as it bounced (there was a $10,000 first prize but it never got paid because the organiser went bankrupt).

Crowle claims that they did receive a trophy as the winners, which was presented by ex-Skyhooks lead singer, Shirley Straughan.

Kovacs' vehicle was a six-wheeled Holden HX ute. He said of the race, "I saw an advertisement from someone who was going to start a race across Australia. I was interested, and at that time I had a six-wheeled V8 Holden HX aluminium tray ute so I ran that."

"One of the secrets was not stopping for fuel very often, so we made a purpose-built aluminium fuel tank which carried quite a few hundred litres. We went to Melbourne to start the race and it was in a paddock down by a gully somewhere out of eye shot, very secretive. I think it took us 31 hours to go from Melbourne to Fremantle."

The (possible) winner's Commodore was an ex-police interceptor, still in yellow, with a modified engine and an extra fuel tank, which was home-made and mounted in the boot.

Other vehicles participating in the race included a supercharged Ford Fairlane ZL (owned by Graham Funston and named "TransAust"), Chrysler RT Charger and a Holden LJ Torana V8. There was also reportedly a VH Commodore with a 5 speed gearbox out of Peter Brock's experimental stock (possibly unbeknownst to him).

Some competitors were able to complete the event in under thirty hours, despite the fact that the Western Australian police were waiting at the border for the entrants, which made speeding there almost impossible.

According to Google Maps the trip shows as 3,427 km and an estimated time of 35 hours. Now imagine what that would be like in 1984!

Update: I have set up a website for this event, actually titled The Australian Cannonball Cup, where we can create a permanent record of this event. Go to www.cannonball.info

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