Who would take a chair, then go and sit in a forest?
David Sheridan started rallying in 1969, navigating for his older brother in a VW before switching to driving once he had turned 18. His wide-ranging career saw him squeezing a Porsche engine into a VW for rallying, and building high-speed buggies for off-road events.
The highlight of his career was coming 39th out of 198 starters in the 1979 Repco Reliability Trial, circumnavigating Australia in a Datsun 1600 rally car.
“I spent a year building that car … it was bullet proof;” he says, “It had to be, because we didn’t have a service team. There was just the two of us!”
These days he runs his business, Gas Strut Engineering, from a workshop in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, and enjoys catching-up with his long time motorsport friends at car rallies.
The job of a road-closure official is vital for the smooth-running of an event such as The Courier-Eureka Rally.
“It’s not just a couple of blokes putting a piece of tape over a road,” says Sheridan, “Rallying has been going since the 1920s and it’s properly-sanctioned by the government, local councils, the forestry officials and police.”
“Our job is to make it safe for everyone, competitors, spectators and locals.”
“The roads are closed, and there are course-checking vehicles that go along before, and after, the rally as it goes through.”
The rally cars are two minutes apart, as the drivers and navigators race against the clock.
There are 135 road closures for this weekend’s Australian Rally Championship event in the forests to the east and south of Ballarat, as well as the start and finish stage officials of the eight closed forest stages.
If you would like to follow The Courier-Eureka Rally, go to www.EurekaRally.com.au or search Eureka Rally on Facebook.
On Saturday 3 March various State forest roads in the Wombat Forest will be closed for the Rally from 9.00 a.m. till 6.00 pm. in the area bounded by Spargo Creek, Blakeville, Greendale, Blackwood, Bullarto South and Korweinguboora, allowing for access along Lerderderg Rd from Blackwood.
On Sunday 4 March all, or part of, Sand Road and Kellys Road at Durham Lead, Treloars, Hansons, Monmouth, Incolls, Victoria and Skippers Roads forest roads in the Enfield/Ross Creek Forest and Golden Lake Road and Linton-Piggoreet Road at Devils Kitchen will be closed from 8.00 am till 4.00pm.
The Courier-Eureka Rally will include a brand new stage, featuring a bitumen road through Devil’s Kitchen, some shire lanes, and even private property.
Ross Runnalls, the Clerk of Course (Road), told The Courier in an article by Tim O’Connor:
“The stage will include old overgrown roads from gold mining days that cross the Woady Yallock Creek, and traverse the mullock heaps of the former Galatea mine, as well as narrow farm access tracks and driveways.
Devil’s Kitchen will be “… very different to the rest of the event which is on fast forest roads. This will require skill and concentration to deal with a huge variety of road conditions in a single stage.”
“It is reminiscent of stages used in the RAC rally in the 1970s and 1980s that traversed the grounds of stately homes in rural England.”
The deadline for entries is 20:00 on the 9th of February.
2018 Eureka Rally entries for Round 1 of both the 2018 Australian Rally Championship and Victorian Rally Championship will open for online submission at www.eurekarally.com.au on release of Supplementary Regulations in early to mid January and close on 9 February.
These Supp Regs can only be released after finalisation of the 2018 ARC Sporting Regulations which are expected to contain some significant changes to 2017.
Plans for a spectator stage in Ballarat City did not come to fruition, but six forest and two shire road stages are planned to be run twice for a total of 217km of competition.
Four stages are the same as 2017 while three retain elements of 2017, with one new, very interesting stage.
Spectators will be catered for by readily accessible viewing points on the first and fourth stages each day, enabling specific crews to be comfortably followed four times each day.
The service park and rally office will be based at the Ballarat Airport in a historic former World War two air force barracks precinct, where most of the 140 RAAF huts are gone, but the all weather sealed road access network remains.
The larger service trucks will be located on the gravel base of the former parade ground and access for competitors and service crews will be separate, as for 2017 Eureka.
The program has been compacted with Documentation starting Wednesday, Testing available on Thursday, incorporating VIP rides, and an informal welcome function at the City Oval Hotel that night.
Recce and ARC Scrutiny will be on Friday, with a free evening. The Rally will start on Saturday morning in Sturt Street, the majestic main avenue of Ballarat, linking the CBD with the Gardens and the Arch of Victory.
The Rally will conclude following Heat 2 on Sunday with a podium finish at the Airport Service Park, followed by an After Party for competitors and officials back at the City Oval Hotel.
Competitor enquiries can be directed to Competitor liaison, Katie Philps on ph. 0467 871 796 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org