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In memory of Dane

It was a bittersweet weekend at Bathurst when the newly-named Dane Ballinger Memorial Truck Show was held in November


If you are unfamiliar with the town of Bathurst then quite frankly we can never be friends. It’s like not knowing at least one quote from Smokey and the Bandit, or never having had at least one speeding ticket or knowing what the acronym MAFS is about.

There are just certain standards I demand, knowing that Bathurst is the home to Australia’s greatest race is another one of them and no I’m not talking about that race where the four-legged mobile glue sticks race around and ensure my money disappears. I’m talking about the six-hour long, four wheeled race where there’s more horsepower than an Arabian stud farm. The Bathurst 1000. Yep, that is the town of Bathurst.

Therefore it was a real eye opener for me when I was down there at the end of October, rather than the second week of October and found the town a whole lot quieter than it had been the few weeks earlier. I also had a lot less Scotch in my system than I had in Bathurst a couple of weeks earlier too, but no one needs to hear those stories.

I should correct myself a little, when I said it was a bit quieter, I meant ‘as I rip my Toyota Yaris rental around the Mt Panorama circuit’ quieter. If you headed to the opposite side of town, you would have found it was very nearly as busy as a race weekend. Only it wasn’t busy with technicians and mechanics, it was busy with cleaners and polishers as some of the area’s finest rigs were getting prepped for the Inaugural Dane Ballinger Memorial Truck Show. This was the drawcard that brought me back to Australia’s motorsport mecca.

There was more than a couple of Kenworth 900 Legends in the paddock. RayGal’s 900 truck and dog garnered plenty of attention from the huge crowd

Close mates

I should give a little background here; this is actually the fourth Bathurst show but it has been renamed after one of its strongest advocates and main organisers, Dane Ballinger, passed away earlier in the year.

Alongside Dean Campbell and several others, Dane had launched the Bathurst Truck show back in 2015. Dean and Dane were extremely close mates. Notice I said ‘mates’ not ‘friends’? That was deliberate because those who knew Dane were aware that once a friendship was formed you would become lifelong mates, a step above friendship.

The sad story is that unfortunately on September 4, 2019, Dane Ballinger was killed in a tragic truck accident on the Pacific Highway. It was a devastating time for his family and friends. It does sound a little cliché, but Dane really was one of those genuine nice guys and the accident and his passing hit scores of people like a sledgehammer.

The outpouring of emotion in the days and weeks afterwards are a testament to the man.

Eventual winner of the Rig of the show was Causleys 900 Legend. Sadly I failed to get a great shot of it, mainly for safety’s sake, without sufficient sunscreen the shine coming of this stunning truck was a bit dangerous

Personally, I had only had the pleasure of meeting Dane once at a recent truck show, but his open personality and humbleness ensured you walked away with both respect and admiration for a man you hardly knew. His gear on the road had always been admired and often envied, their light green colour systems, paired with enough shine for Stevie Wonder to be putting on a second pair of sunnies and you can understand why he was so well known and so well loved.

After his passing it was decided to not only run the show, but rename it and make it bigger and better than ever.

As this was my first Bathurst Truck Show I had no idea what to expect but I had heard rumours about the standard of trucks that had turned up in previous years. I took it all with a grain of salt as we all hear those, “seriously, best trucks go to blah blah blah” claims, right?

Well I’ll eat humble pie, hell I’ll even eat cauliflower if I’m wrong when I say the units that rolled into the Dane Ballinger Memorial Truck Show were some of the shiniest, sharpest and sexiest units you will find in Australia. It even made me feel I should go polish my Yaris just to get into the car park.

It wasn’t just one or two either. With over 180 rigs on show I seriously didn’t envy the judges and I seriously wish I had a sunglasses’ stall there; I would have made a killing. The impact Dane had on so many people saw trucks from Canberra to Brisbane rocking up.

It seems I have a habit of catching ‘almost’ company photos. We missed one of the Tipping’s Transport team, but we managed to catch (left to right) Matt who drives the 104; Jamie who has the 401; Brad who pilots the K200 down the end and boss man Grant with young Ned who sits comfortably in the Volvo

Light show

While the show was officially on Saturday, the organisers allowed people to start rolling in on the Friday, filling up the centre of the Bathurst Showgrounds with B-doubles, singles, tarped loads, loggers, oversize, cranes … you name it, it was there.

Friday night saw a mini light show underway and Saturday saw a huge market and show, running on the outside of the track. So you got your diesel fix on the inside and your plethora of wooden man-shed signs and scented candles on the outside. The most popular truck may have been the Ice cream van but that was just fuelling up the hundreds of people who then wandered their way through the gaggle of gorgeous trucks.

I mentioned it earlier and I stand by it, judging this show would have been harder than my wife’s poached eggs. Though few would disagree with the eventual winner of the Dane Ballinger Memorial Trophy. That prize went to Mark Causley and his sensational 900 Legend.

So, all in all I must admit the Bathurst show is definitely one I would recommend, and it’s definitely one I will be back to. The fact that I struggled to line up any photo shoots afterwards because most of the guys that had come down to the show had been invited out for dinner by Dean Campbell, showed that small town hospitality was still rampant in Bathurst.

It’s no good for me, I missed out on some great shoots, but it’s a great reflection on the atmosphere created at one of Australia’s best truck shows.


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