Dud drivers leave more than just skid marks after Shitbox Rally

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
6 Min Read

Shitbox Rally fundraisers have left behind more than just skid marks after driving their duds to the centre of Australia as part of this year’s winter Shitbox Rally. 

The charity rally saw 212 teams drive their renovated “shitboxes”, valued at less than $1500, from Melbourne to Alice Springs last week in a bid to flush away cancer once and for all. 

And despite the skidmarks left in their tracks, the pedal-pushing participants fueled up over $2.33 million in funding for Cancer Council Australia, racing past their target by more than $200,000. 

Participating teams sourced their own roadworthy and registered rusty relics, and each raised a minimum of $5,000 to participate, with many also choosing to dress up for added amusement. 

Breakdowns on the bumper-to-bumper junkyard journey are all but guaranteed. Still, the non-competitive environment means participants work together to ensure as many driving teams complete the 3500km dusty distance as possible. 

Organisers told Build-it the fun-focused drive, which doesn’t do winners or times, saw 206 of the 212 shit heaps complete the course, which took seven days with overnight stops in Hay, Silverton, Hungerford, Windorah, Bedourie and Tobermorey. 

The remaining six were broken down but not out; getting in the back of other teams revved up rustbuckets to complete the journey. 

map route
The planned Winter Shitbox Rally route was adjusted last minute, with drivers heading to Hungerford instead of Tibooburra.

 James Freeman OAM is the rally’s founder who came up with the event after losing both his parents to cancer within 12 months of each other. 

James says the rally not only wants to raise money and awareness for cancer but also offers a supportive environment to help jack up those who have suffered or are suffering.  

Shitbox Rally is not a race, but a reward for fundraising efforts and a chance to explore Australia. The rally draws teams from around the country to help achieve the extraordinary. Many have been affected by cancer in one way or another, whether it be family, friends, or themselves personally,” he said. 

“Teams not only pull together to help each other through the challenges associated with driving a $1,500 car on these remote outback racks but also help and support each other through openness, mateship and camaraderie from people who have gone through similar hardships with their own cancer stories.”

“This common experience unites each rally team to become a part of the larger Box Rallies family.”

The event sees drivers build older cars dubbed “shitboxes” into reliable rally cars fit to handle the Aussie outback.

So far, that impressive team culture has helped shitbox participants, alongside its sister event, the Mystery Box Rally, raise a collective $46.9 million for cancer research over 14 years of existence, improving the lives of millions of Australians currently facing a course of far worse unknown journeys. 

One of those teams is Leesa and Katherin, otherwise known as ‘Ballsey Bombshells’, who raised $21,756 for Cancer Council. 

“We are inspired by the strength and resilience of families and friends who have battled and overcome cancer,” they said.

“Our dedication to raising funds for the Cancer Council will undoubtedly make a meaningful impact in the lives of many and contribute to the ongoing fight against cancer.”

Meanwhile, fellow team 5 O’Clock Somewhere, featuring Dave Dunbier and Glen Wallace, took their trusty Ford on its third rally to help raise $21,700. 

“These funds go to Cancer Council, and we are extremely proud to be doing our part to support such a worthy charity,” they said. 

rally car
Dave and Glen drove their over 20-year-old Ford Flacon BA Wagon from Melbourne to Alice Springs.

But it’s more than drivers that team up to help keep the engines running throughout the event, with pre-rally preparations essential to transforming drive-less duds into reliable rally cars. 

Gold Coast-based mechanic and avid Build-it reader Reece King, owner of Drive-by Services, helped mates Dos Amigos Locos, Daniel and Eddy, prepare their 1998 Nissan Pulsar Plus for the unsealed outback roads. 

“I was over the moon to help with this car; we did all the brakes, rotors and gaskets ahead of the event to make sure the lads could make it through the long journey,” he told Build-it. 

“It was relatively simple stuff, but there was a bit of added pressure knowing the boys have absolutely zero mechanical experience between them, so I wanted to avoid any 3000km callouts.” he joked. 

 “It’s fantastic to see the amount of money being raised by both box rallies year on year, which ultimately makes a huge difference to people’s lives. Congratulations to Daniel and Eddy for completing the rally and raising nearly $30,000 for cancer research.” 

Donations are still open for the Winter Shitbox Rally, while preparations are already underway for the event’s spring edition taking place from October 18 from Bendigo to Townsville. 

Share This Article
Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.