The Variety Club Bash raises millions of dollars for disadvantaged children, but it also takes on the monumental task of shipping 300 people and 69 cars around the some of the most remote parts of the state.
And just to make things interesting, the regulations say the cars need to be at least thirty years old.
“It make it harder,” says Bash Director Wayne Richards. “Yes, certainly harder for our mobile workshop to keep them going because they’ve got to find parts for the older cars along the way. But, it also add a bit of nostalgia.”
This nostalgia definitely makes it interesting for the dedicated group of mechanics who have the task of keeping these cars on the road.
Michael Lewis is a Bash veteran of 20 years and is used to having to think outside of the square.
“The most creative repair would have been fitting falcon differential and back axel on a Ford Fairlane Ranch Wagon, between Coober Peady and William Creek,” he says.
That stretch of road runs along the fringes of the Great Australian Desert, in one of the most sparsely populated regions in the world.
But Mr Lewis managed to find, cut, beat and weld the five-foot-long piece of metal into the right shape.
“We went back to Cooper Peady and picked up an axel out of a Falcon,” he recalls. “We modified it to fit in the Ranch Wagon and we got it into William Creek and then through to Victor Harbor for the final night.”
As a professional mechanic, he admits most modern workshops would probably offer to do little more than scrap the car.
The Holden Sandman of former Australian cricketer Darren Lehmann was still receiving repairs right up to the day before the Bash set off.
He says his team would not be able to finish the bash without people like Michael Lewis.
“We haven’t got a mechanic in our site. Apart from Les Burdett (former Adelaide Oval Curator), who can only cut grass,” Mr Lehmann jokes.
“We’ve got an ex-premier, an ex fast bowler in Sam Parkinson and brewery rep. So basically we haven’t got a chance of servicing any cars.”
But the vehicles are not the only things that need constant servicing, during the Bash organisers and caterers provide around 7,600 meals free of charge.
Former premier Rob Kerin says the quality of the food is up there with parliamentary functions.
“Last year we were out in the Painted Desert, out in the middle of nowhere and thanks to some very generous people the food was sensational,” he says.
“It’s hotel style every night.”
The participants definitely deserve it, with each car raising at least $10,000.
Roz Chow was the most successful fundraiser, with her car donating over $150,000.
But Ms Chow says Variety is so well know for their work with disadvantaged children, she has no trouble finding people wanting to help.
“There are so many generous people out there, we just round them up and say please.”
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