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BE excited, readers! It’s only about 49 sleeps to the start of this year’s Shitbox Rally, the highlight of the global motorsport calendar where more than 200 cars costing no more that $1000 will try to travel the 3600km from Canberra to Townsville via the Birdsville Track and the Simpson Desert.

Organiser James Freeman says: “This year’s route will be a tour de force of some of Australia’s most iconic pubs and landscapes over seven days.”

Once again your intrepid team here at TheWeekend Australian Motoring will be behind what’s left of the wheel of our Ford BA ute. Our motto: “Who cares about landscapes, we care about iconic pubs, in fact any pubs.” This year your on-the-spot reporters will be trying to beat our 2014 position of last.

Naturally the thriller from Thirroul, the man who single-handedly brought British Leyland to its knees in Australia, production boss Mark Southcott, wanted a switch from the Ford to his very bright, very yellow Mini Moke. The rest of the team said we would rather eat cold vomit.

Even after reading our reports last year some of our readers are taking part: Jo Millar and Deb Moore (who wear bumble bee costumes, not that there’s anything wrong with that), BMW’s star technician Michael McMichael and daughter Libby (in the BMW McDaddy Rallying shitbox), and the only couple to drive topless from Perth to Darwin, Ben and Dan Wallace (Wallace Grommets).

Bad luck to them all.

You will be able to follow all the action, live, in person and in mainly full colour on our website, in these pages and on the worldwide web. Get on the Google now for a preview at facebook.com/weekendaustralian. If you want to donate (all money goes to the Cancer Council) invest your filthy lucre at https://shitboxrally2015. everydayhero.com/au/weekend-australian-motoring.

This year we promise the video will work, most of the photos won’t be fuzzy and I won’t have a drink until I have filed my report for the day.

Meantime, one of the rocks of Australian motoring died a few weeks back. Geoff Paradise was a legendary hot rodder, car and truck enthusiast and big fan of V8 Supercars. He was editor of Hot Rodding review at 19 and went on to have a great career in magazines in Australia and the US before turning to that most noble of professions, public relations.

Jill Thomas quite rightly told me I was wrong when I said David Shearer invented the jumpstumper when in fact it was Jill’s great-grandfather Clarence Smith. The Shearers manufactured it but Dave did invent the differential.

And if you are in Melbourne during the next few months put the Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria on the top of your “to visit” list. I’ll be telling you more about this seriously world-class show soon but it is a great celebration of Australian car design and engineering.

This exhibition reminds us that after 120 years of design and manufacture here we need to look back and preserve our national motoring treasures, and we need to make sure they stay in Australia.

Read on at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/motoring/shitbox-charity-rally-set-to-hit-the-bush/story-fngmee2f-1227261452167?sv=c15061d218817d763bf293f002fd4453



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