Kidney Kar Rally

[KKR2015] Rest Day - Coober Pedy

What the heck is this?!? What the heck is this?!?

Wow! Our little car is very dirty indeed! So much dust, and it is everywhere! So most of the morning was spent catching up on laundry while Ken looked after the Kar - checked over and under, refuelled, tyre replaced etc etc...

Our plan was to get all the work done so we could do some sightseeing in the afternoon. So after lunch we went off the see the Old Time Opal Mine where we explored the underground mine and then the Museum - the mine was a little claustrophobic for me, but the museum was fascinating indeed! Then it was off to dinner at the Opal Inn once more before we all enjoyed a lovely meal and headed back to our respective hotels for an early night to make sure we would be well rested for the big drive tomorrow from Cobber Pedy into the Flinders Ranges to Wilpena Pound.

[KKR2015] Day 2 of the Rally - Alice Springs to ???

IMG_3243Yes, that's correct. We didn't know where we were going to finish the day today - it was a "Mystery" location!

Started off with a Class 3 stage of 73k called "Ltyentye Apurte" which finished at a tiny Indigenous Community town called Santa Teresa. We thought we were perhaps a little slow on this stage and we had a long stage ahead of us so this was a stop for a compulsory refuel. The next stage was only a Class 1 but almost 200k as we crossed into the western edge of the Simpson Desert. Lunch was defined as a 'picnic in the bush' but I have to say there wasn't a bush to be seen! So it was a picnic in the desert with our pre-packed lunches and some water (but not too much as it was some distance to the nearest facilities!). What an amazingly vast and diverse country we live in!

A random rally rest stop! A random rally rest stop!

The final stage for the day was a gruelling 144k Class 4 which was to end at our Mystery location. Given the average speed for this class is 60k, you expect it to be tough. Lots of sand and a lot of very deep bulldust which caused no end of trouble for some of the Kars. The Road Director had anticipated some trouble in this section, so recovery vehicles were stationed throughout to help pull out Kars that got caught. With a bit of attentive navigation and some seriously skilful driving, we breezed through. We attempted to rescue another Subaru that had become stuck, but after a few attempts with the snatch strap, it was clear it needed something much bigger than us to get it out of that bulldust! While we were attempting the rescue more Kars just drove straight in and stopped! Anyway, with recovery vehicles and some of the back-up Kars, everyone got pulled out and we headed to our mystery night at what we now knew was Mt Dare. Our fuel had hit reserve at this point, so At $2.49 a litre, it was an expensive refuel! We had a great night at the Mt Dare Hotel, most camped and some stayed in cabins and the next morning the hotel proprietors presented a cheque for $500 to the organisers for the Kidney Kids - this was met with a very loud round of applause!

Some of the field were eating our dust, but we're working to get further up the ladder! Some of the field were eating our dust, but we're working to get further up the ladder!

We finished in equal 20th position at the end of the day with an even, 1 early, 19 early (even after our attempted rescue, we were still way too fast)!

[KKR2015] Day 3 of the Rally - Mt Dare to Coober Pedy

Dust everywhere. Dust everywhere.

Woke nice and early, fortunately before someone from our group of campers  sounded reveille on their trumpet at about 6am! Once again we took off early with a warning that today's first stage (Class 4 for 66k) included a 20k stretch driving on gibber stones! These were not 'stones', these were rocks, sometimes more closely resembling boulders! What a stretch! I am amazed that we managed to get through it without losing at least one tyre! One particularly large one that couldn't be avoided did nudge our sump guard back a little against the exhaust, so the Kar now sounds a little louder than normal - but we knew exactly what it was when it happened as we had the same thing last year when we hit a particularly deep gutter. Nothing that needs fixing at this stage...the Kar has been running really well, although everything in the Kar has a layer of red dust covering it!

Coolest driver in the rally! Coolest driver in the rally!

The first stage finished at Dalhousie Springs, a natural warm spring out in the middle of nowhere. The water was 34 to 38 degrees so many took the opportunity to have a dip in the warm water.  It was then a short drive to the starting point for the second stage. Unfortunately in the middle of this short 9k transport was a massive patch of bulldust. Once again we got through it but many others didn't. We reversed back to where we could remain on solid track, hooked up three snatch straps and pulled out Kar 350 who was stuck right in the middle of it and had everyone banked up behind them. This time the Subaru saved the day and we proceeded to the start of the second stage arriving 7 mins after our scheduled start time. It was another Class 4 of 60k. Ken drove so hard to make up the time we had lost, we managed to still arrive early! The third stage for the day was a 107k Class 1 which finished with lunch at the Pink Roadhouse in Oodnadatta!

After lunch we started the final section for the day. A massive 242k Class 1 through the Painted Desert. Just to catch us by surprise, this stage included a 'secret control' which meant that somewhere along the way, our time was taken without us knowing, so those who drive very fast at the start of a stage and then slow down towards the end to make sure they don't arrive early, were caught out! So at the end of Day 3 we remain in equal 20th position overall with points lost based on 2 mins early, 3 mins early, 3 mins late and 5 mins early!

Award for best presented Kar! Award for best presented Kar!

At dinner in Coober Pedy the official photos were taken of the groups based on years of participation in the Kidney Kar Rally. Ken received his 6 year badge and I received my 5 year one. But the highlight of the night for us was the announcement that we had won the award for the best presented Kar! So thrilled and thankful to the Kidney Kids who provided the paintings, Katie at Kidney Health Australia for her help in getting those paintings to us and providing photos of the kids, our designer David who put in so many hours transferring all of those images into a design for the Kar, SignPro in Ringwood for their fantastic work and Luke who worked to make sure it all happened in the end! Thank you all!

[KKR2015] Day 1 of the Rally

A section of the track (image supplied). A section of the track (image supplied).

We were feeling quite confident today after the end of our first day. We started with a 75k 'transport' which is basically intended to get you to the start of the first rally stage. And what a first stage it was! A class 3 which means an average speed of about 70kph for just under 70k. We thought we completed this stage maybe a minute too fast... Then a short transport to the beginning of a very harrowing stage - a class 3 again but 88k and some unbelievable holes, gutters, rough creek crossings, humps, dips, rocks and sand, not to mention the cattle, horses and yes a dingo! At one point in this stage there was actually air under all four wheels as we hit an unexpected hump and literally took off! Some Kars behind us got caught in the sand and had to be pulled out by other Kars. At the end of this stage, which we thought we had been a couple of minutes slow on, we had lunch at Ross River. We then headed back out on another 54k transport to face the last stage of the day - a class 1 (85kph average) for 158k. Once again, we thought we had done ok finishing within a minute of the expected average time. We then head back to the hotel where we have to report to Admin with our time cards, so they know everyone is safe.

Navigator instructions! Navigator instructions!

As we had a couple of hours to spare before dinner, I busied myself with laundry and repacking ready to check out in the morning. Ken went to attend to a couple of windscreen chips we had acquired during the course of the day, refuel the Kar ready for tomorrow etc. On his return he discovered we had a tyre that was very low. We pumped it up only to find it flat again after dinner. No time to get it repaired before we head out in the morning so a couple of young Rallytives changed it tonight for us. We still have one good spare up our sleeve, but will try to get it seen to in Coober Pedy in a couple of days - hopefully we will manage until then!

Dinner was outside by the pool this evening but it was very chilly so it finished early for which we were grateful given how tired we are after the first day. But the delays by so many Kars over the course of the day in sand etc meant that the average times for the day were significantly different from what we had expected, so we ended up being scored 2 mins early, 8 mins early, 4 mins early across the three stages and ranked 24th for the day - not quite as we would have hoped but there are still plenty of days to go!

[KKR2015] Scrutineering, Registration & the Official Start Dinner 

Checking the first aid kit Checking the first aid kit

So...at 9am we lined up for scrutineering - all checked off and good to go. Then into registration where we sign our lives away and pick up our badges etc so that we can be identified and returned to Kidney Health Australia in the event we get lost!

We then head out to the highway to do a distance check so we can calibrate our Terratrip. We had to make the run a few times to get it accurate after our first run being 20 metres out. There was a seriously happy High 5 once we got it!

In the afternoon a group of Kars headed out to Bradshaw Primary School for the kids to see the Kars close up. They were pretty excited and loved the KKR Medallions and red jelly beans we gave them! We had to leave the school in time to get back for our 2.30 briefing from the Road Director who goes through all the rules and behaviours expected throughout the rally. It is at this briefing that we all receive our Road Books. These are our 'bibles' for the next few days - apart from providing us with all the directions for the rally it is full of everything else we may need to know during the course of the next 10 days. Once we have the Road Book, the navigators spend a fair bit of time going through page by page highlighting dangers and calculating times for intervals in each section.

Kids getting red jelly beans and Kidney Kar Rally Medallions! Kids getting red jelly beans and Kidney Kar Rally Medallions!

At 7pm we began the official dinner. There are several speakers, a little entertainment, a video message from the Kidney Kids and then the announcement of the highest fundraisers. We were thrilled to be ranked 7th highest this year against some very stiff competition! This means that every day, we start the rally in 7th position. Overall the rally has so far raised $700,000 this year, a massive 40% up on last year! Well done to all those who worked hard to raise funds and to all our supporters! After the dinner is the charity auction - always entertaining and another bundle of money raised from the Rallytives for the Kidney Kids!

We made it into the local paper! We made it into the local paper!

So an early start on Day 1 tomorrow - wish us luck!

[KKR2015] Scrutineering, Registration & the Official Start Dinner 

Checking the first aid kit Checking the first aid kit

So...at 9am we lined up for scrutineering - all checked off and good to go. Then into registration where we sign our lives away and pick up our badges etc so that we can be identified and returned to Kidney Health Australia in the event we get lost!

We then head out to the highway to do a distance check so we can calibrate our Terratrip. We had to make the run a few times to get it accurate after our first run being 20 metres out. There was a seriously happy High 5 once we got it!

In the afternoon a group of Kars headed out to Bradshaw Primary School for the kids to see the Kars close up. They were pretty excited and loved the KKR Medallions and red jelly beans we gave them! We had to leave the school in time to get back for our 2.30 briefing from the Road Director who goes through all the rules and behaviours expected throughout the rally. It is at this briefing that we all receive our Road Books. These are our 'bibles' for the next few days - apart from providing us with all the directions for the rally it is full of everything else we may need to know during the course of the next 10 days. Once we have the Road Book, the navigators spend a fair bit of time going through page by page highlighting dangers and calculating times for intervals in each section.

Kids getting red jelly beans and Kidney Kar Rally Medallions! Kids getting red jelly beans and Kidney Kar Rally Medallions!

At 7pm we began the official dinner. There are several speakers, a little entertainment, a video message from the Kidney Kids and then the announcement of the highest fundraisers. We were thrilled to be ranked 7th highest this year against some very stiff competition! This means that every day, we start the rally in 7th position. Overall the rally has so far raised $700,000 this year, a massive 40% up on last year! Well done to all those who worked hard to raise funds and to all our supporters! After the dinner is the charity auction - always entertaining and another bundle of money raised from the Rallytives for the Kidney Kids!

We made it into the local paper! We made it into the local paper!

So an early start on Day 1 tomorrow - wish us luck!

[KKR2015] Final Preparations and Official Unveiling of Kar 888!

Simpson's Gap. Simpson's Gap.

A few last minute things we needed to deal with today before scrutineering tomorrow...D shackles in lieu of tow balls, 5 litres of water, fill spare petrol can etc, so we thought we would take the morning off to take in some of the nearby tourist spots.

We began at Ellery's Creek Big Hole - what a magnificent waterhole - an oasis in the middle of so much dryness. We then went to Standley's Chasm and walked the kilometre along the rocky creek bed to reach the it. We had to ensure we were there by 12 noon to see the Chasm light up as the sun reached its peak! Another fantastic experience indeed! Walked back along the creek bed to the Kar and headed off to Simpson's Gap for a peak at another wonderful sight. So in the space of a single morning we were spoiled to see so many natural and beautiful wonders!

Headed back into Alice, managed to get all our bits and pieces done and headed off to Lasseter's again for dinner. By now most of the Rally Krews have arrived in town, so Lasseter's was the place to be! Once again, great to catch up with so many Rallytives! Scrutineering and Registration starts at 9am tomorrow!

Meanwhile, the new wrap of our rally Kar has been unveiled! We should probably explain...a couple of years back, we came up with the idea of having the Kar design created by the Kidney Kids themselves. It has taken us a bit of time to get it done but here it is! We asked Kidney Health Australia if one of the activities at this years Kidney Kids Camp could be painting. And so it began... The kids did paintings of Kars, roads, kidneys and also did lots of handprints! After the camp, we got the paintings and our designer set _DSC2630to work on laying them out into a graphic design that would be suitable for our Kar. He also incorporated some of the photographs of the kids themselves at the camp. He did an amazing job and with some help from our friends at SignPro in Ringwood, the Kar wrap was completed the day before we left Melbourne!

The feedback we have had so far has been amazing. Certainly those Rallytives who have seen it have all been very positive and extremely complimentary. The primary colours used by the kids for the paintings themselves have provided a very bright design. It is certainly attracting lots of attention as we drive around!

Until tomorrow...!

[KKR2015] The Kidney Kar Revealed!

_DSC2670 The farewell wave from the Downies krew!

Each year Kar 888 gets a facelift, with new decals designed & printed, with the whole kar given a loving polish. This year has been no exception, with the final look just superb!

With the Rally start just 2 days away, we'd thought now would be the perfect time to reveal out the kar's great new look... before it gets covered in dust and dirt!

What do you think of the look this year?

_DSC2644 _DSC2640 _DSC2637 _DSC2630

Kidney Kids Say Thanks

Kathryn Downie wants to share a message from some of the Kidney Kids who have benefited from all the fundraising achieved by the participants of the Kidney Kar Rally. The rally this year kicks off soon, so if you wish to donate to support this great cause, visit the donation page here. Any support will be warmly appreciated, as you can see below!

Hi Everyone,

As many of you know, in two months time K & K will be hitting the road, taking part in the 27th Annual Kidney Kar Rally. It will be a long, challenging, but fun journey travelling through Alice Springs to Moama (Echuca) via Coober Pedy on 11th to 21st August 2015.

This event raises funds to support children affected by kidney disease, a cause I am very passionate about. I welcome you to take a look at this short clip which shows you the faces of those who benefit.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3mVnTa40DA&w=560&h=315]

I'd like to thank anyone who has supported me as part of the Rally. YOU are making such a difference to the lives of these children and I hope you feel proud.

For those yet to donate, but would like to, you can visit my team page here.

A big thank you to everyone for your support - it means a lot to me!

Kath

Kidney Kar Rally: Day 8 (23/8/14)

Well today was our final day of rallying. It is an interesting mixture of sadness that it has come to a close for another year and elation that we get to sleep in tomorrow!

Sign at the finish line! Sign at the finish line!This morning was a very early start for what was supposed to be a 5 stage day. Our briefing from the road director was at 6.30am. First was the news that the first stage had been cancelled due to the roads being too wet (after the last week I have to ask if there is any such thing as too wet!). As a consequence we had a 120km transport section to get us the the start of what was going to be the second stage for the day, but wound up being the first.

All in all today was long, other than the final stage for the day which was quite a short and easy trip to the finish line. We had one major error where we had to go back the way we had come as we had missed a crossroad, which of course loses vital minutes! There were more unbelievable forests with winding tracks that I seriously doubt had seen a vehicle in months! We had mobs of sheep and herds of cattle on the road (and they are very unpredictable when faced with multiple kars converging on them!). It was however a beautiful sunny day which was great for driving and the scenery was spectacular with enormous fields of yellow everywhere!

So at the end of the final stage we gather to watch everyone finish and share a drink and congratulate each other on finishing, some in one piece, some decidedly broken! Then we head off to shower and ready ourselves for the final dinner and presentations.

In the overall scoring, yesterday saw us lose a whopping 16 points, half of which were for arriving 8 minutes early in a section which saw a lot of kars struggle thus reducing the average time for completion of that stage! That wrong turn at the end of the day cost us 7 points. Today we lost 9 points in total, 5 of which were the cost of missing that crossroad.

So to the final dinner and presentations. We will not be returning home with a massive trophy this year, like the Redex one we won last year, but we are more than delighted to be returning home having finished outright 24th in the rally which was a vast improvement on last years 52nd! Congratulations to the overall winners Kar 11 - the Blues Brothers!

Once again the Kidney Kar Rally has managed to raise over $500,000!!! Congratulations on the tremendous effort everyone! And a big personal thank you from Ken and myself to all OUR generous donors from all corners of the globe!

To all the competitors & officials, the organisers (Kim & Arthur), Kidney Health Australia (particularly Katie, Dan & Steve) congratulations on a fantastic event and we hope you all travel safely home.

To the Kidney Kids that we have met along the way and all those who attend the Kids Kidney Camps - we hope that you continue to enjoy the Camps and Capers that our fundraising is able to support.

See you all next year!
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