AN OPPORTUNITY to race one of the world’s most gruelling off-road races was the inspiration behind a new race event heading to the Bowen region.
The inaugural Don River Dash is set to get the blood pumping when it comes to Bowen from September 13-15.
The race weekend will involve about 45 off-road race cars and up to 150 endurance bike riders tearing along the Don River’s sandy embankments.
Burdekin Offroaders Inc president Michael Marson said the weekend race event was inspired by an opportunity to race in the famous Baja 1000 in Mexico.
“Around two years ago I had the opportunity to race in the last leg of the Baja, which behind the Dakar Rally is probably the biggest off-road event in the world,” Marson said.
“It was just amazing, and it started to make us think ‘can we bring something like this to Queensland?’ where you can race on some public streets and then barrel your way through the off-road section.
“It was only when our club vice-president, Talbot Cox, was flying in a helicopter from Mackay for work and they had to divert across the Don River did an idea start to form.”
As is usually the case with large and adventurous ideas, the plan was formed in a shed over a few beers.
“We thought we might have got in a little bit over our heads when we started laying it all out,” Marson said.
“But we were committed to bringing something fresh to not only North Queensland but the east coast of Australia.
“It has been a hell of a mission to get here but we’ve had so much support from the local community, Whitsunday Regional Council, competitors and local businesses that we are committed to making this event a huge success.”
Friday night will provide the chance for every revhead in the region to get up and close to the action.
Visitors are encouraged to attend the evening and see the vehicles that will be racing as they go through scrutineering to make sure they are up to safety standards.
There will also be a full bar and food vendors on offer to attendees.
The weekend’s racing will start at the Bowen Showgrounds from 8am on Saturday, taking teams down closed public roads to where the track enters the Don River.
Racers will then head about 25km upstream in the riverbed before turning around and returning on the opposite side of the riverbed.
Each competitor will attempt to finish three laps of the river in total, making each race length around 160km in length.
Marson said that due to the event’s unique structure, it would be a great day for spectators to set up a tent and watch the non-stop action.
“Unlike point-to-point races, the competitors will be doing laps,” he said.
“This means that instead of seeing them once, you’ll be able to watch them go past three times each day, so there’s a lot more action to see.”
Marson, who races in an off-road car, said he tipped his hat to the bike riders at off-road events.
“They’re impressive people,” he said.
“If we make a mistake (in a car), we might skid out. If they make a mistake they’ve got much higher stakes, so they’ll be one to keep your eyes on.”