Another rally season about to start, as usual, with the Booma. Four months of meticulous preparation of the car and myself. I had sorted out all the little niggling problems that had emerged last year and now I was quite confident that when I select first or second gear I could release the clutch and there would be some action in the drive train. After my navigator Monkey's and my excellent result, 2nd outright, in last year's Group 7 we decided to try to prove it wasn't a fluke and enter in the series again.

With a seven hour drive to Narooma from here Hot Dog, Keith (my son and to avoid confusion later on hereby known as "Young Keith") and I left fairly early on the Friday with a couple of driver revivers planned at relo's places. Everything was planned so well fate had to raise its ugly head at Berry. The weld on the tow hook had parted and the car had moved over a little and when I got around to the left side of the trailer I found the rear tyre was as flat as a tack and you guessed it I didn't have a spare for it. After some wheeling and dealing with the only tyre dealer in Berry, I scored a second hand tyre for $15 and after some time and some assistance from Phil B, who happened to be driving past, we got on our way again.

There were twelve entries from the Mini Car Club, twice as many as officials from the club, although Peter E, Bryan Van E and Tony P didn't start which left Simon G and Fly in car 18, Greg M and Paul E in car 35, Doogie and Kate R in car 39, Phil B and Paul C in car 53, Alan H and John S in car 60, Peter D and Geoff O'T in car 63, myself, Coal and Monkey in one of the twin 1600s car 64, Roof and Woody in the other twin car 70 and Keith R and Corrine E-J in car 74.

The '99 rally season was starting the way it had finished in '98 with the weather causing havoc again, raining heavy all Friday night. Cancelling the last two stages and with the length of the rally this hardly made a dent in the rally and it meant that we had an extra person for service crew, Brett M who was supposed to be on a road closure in the last stage. Our service crew then consisted of Hot Dog, Young Keith, Steve (my mate) and Brett to service for Roof, Keith and myself.

The clouds had been threatening to rain all day and by the time we had to start it didn't look any better but it remained dry. We arrived at the first control and was told for about the hundredth time that it was very slippery out there. Once we started however we found that the 60 cars in front of us had dried the track out quite well and the four new Dunlops, still with the tits on, were sticking like the proverbial to the blanket. About half way through the second stage we came across a huge blanket of fog and after finding our way through the dense mist we saw Alan H's Gemini was the cause of all this low cloud.

The first service was pretty routine, a bit of fuel, screw on the lights, kick the tyres and a cup of coffee for the crew. The same for Roof and Woody although Steve was looking over Roof's car and found the fan belt was looking a bit second hand so he asked Roof if he wanted it changed and he agreed so Steve and Brett changed it.

Roof should have checked the warranty on the Taiwaneze belt as it only lasted thirty odd k's of transport and a few k's of competitive and he didn't have a spare so, unfortunately that was the end of Roof's rally. The two new stages Daewoo had put in the rally to fill in the three-hour meal break were great, as I had had enough waiting before the start. At the beginning of the seventh stage we were told the eighth stage had been abandoned as there had been a downpour that made it extremely slippery and 12 of the 20 or so cars, that had started the stage, had not made it through. (ed's note: As navigator in one of the sweep vehicles I can verify just how slippery this road had got in just a few hours since we had helped to set it up. We ended up having to winch a Landcruiser and a Patrol up one particular hill after they just slid straight of the road and would have gone down a very steep bank except for a strategically located tree, at 5kph.)

We finished the event  in 42nd position with Simon G in 16th, Peter D in 23rd, Greg M in 24th, Doogie 25th, Phil B in 31st and Keith R in 53rd received the Encouragement Award.

Everyone that I have spoken to since, about the rally, enjoyed it and I congratulate Daewoo, Joan and all the officials for making The Narooma Booma Rally the great event it is.

Unlike everybody else we couldn't sleep in on Sunday as we had to get back home, unpack and repack for the train trip to Melbourne, for the Grand Prix, on Monday morning. All was going well until about 3/4 of the way up Mount Ousley, the engine in the F150 was getting a little warm, as usual on big hills, when I heard a hissing sound and I couldn't remember running over a snake so I pulled over to investigate.

When I lifted the bonnet I discovered a large plume of steam coming from the top radiator hose. And you guessed it again I didn't have a spare one of them either. I rang the N.R.M.A. which took about 15 minutes to get through to the bloke what road I was on.

While I was waiting Doogie and Kate came to a screaming halt and ran over some poor animal, on the side of the road, that had died some months before and released the stirred up aromas that had been bottled up in the carcass. It was not a pleasant odour. He gave me 5 litres of water and couldn't do much else so he left us with the stench. After a while I figured that the N.R.M.A. wouldn't be able to get a radiator hose for this thing at 2.00pm on a Sunday so I put some race tape on the hose, filled the radiator with the water Doogie had left me and some I had myself and left the cap off and tried to make it a bit further.

We had only got to the top of Mount Ousley when the cooling system was dry again, the head gasket had blown and pumped all the water out. By this time I was on the Southern Freeway and I stopped at an emergency phone and contacted the N.R.M.A. again and I was told that the vehicle had to be towed to the end of the freeway before it could be looked at, which was fine as it needed to be towed to my parent's place anyway. A little while later Fly stopped and then Brett and Monkey stopped as well. It finshed up that Hot Dog went back to my parent's place with the tow truck, Fly followed towing my car trailer, Brett and Monkey followed to help and Young Keith and I drove the rally car home.

Finally I would like to thank Phil, Doogie, Kate, Fly, Brett and Monkey for stopping and lending a hand where they could. The trips both down and back were made a lot easier with their assistance.

Coal Mullet.


Eds Note: The mullets did their usual fine assortment at this rally including, but not solely, Director, crews in three sweep vehicles, serviceing for numerous cars, drivers and navigators, control officials and road closure officials.