Eureka Rally volunteers get the best view of the high-octane rally action

It’s hard to beat the thrill of watching rally cars flying along forest roads, according to motorsport fan Ian Ellis.

WILLING WORKERS: Eureka Rally event treasurer/spectator controller Geoff Boyd and spectator control/road crew member Ian Ellis assemble signs for the spectator viewing areas ahead of the rally in March. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

WILLING WORKERS: Eureka Rally event treasurer/spectator controller Geoff Boyd and spectator control/road crew member Ian Ellis assemble signs for the spectator viewing areas ahead of the rally in March. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Mr Ellis, who is president of the Ballarat Light Car Club, will reprise his Eureka Rally volunteer role from last year as spectator chief, and is looking for volunteer recruits to get up close to the action.

Much of his work will be done before the rally cars hit the gravel tracks of Ballarat’s forests on March 3 and 4, but an army of volunteer marshals will be needed to help keep the tracks clear and the spectators safe.

“As spectator chief we try to find a point of interest that’s easily accessible to the public, put bunting up and officially mark where the spectator point is,” he said.

“We then have probably six to eight spectator marshals to inform spectators when the cars are coming. We have someone up the road who blows a whistle when the car is in sight so spectators are aware the next competitor is almost there.”

Officials are still deciding exactly where the spectator points will be along the rally legs through the western parts of the Wombat Forest and in the forests and roads south of Ballarat, but what is certain is that scores of volunteers will be needed.

“We need to put a manned road closure on every intersection, which number in the hundreds. If someone does want to be involved we can put them on to a spectator point or road closure and you can’t get much closer to the action than that,” he said.

There are a variety of other volunteer roles that also need filling throughout the weekend both on course and at Ballarat Airport where the service park and rally office will be located.

The Courier Eureka Rally is the first round of the 2018 CAMS Australian Rally Championship event, and returned to Ballarat last year after a 46 year absence.

New for 2018 is a stage near Scarsdale featuring a bitumen road through Devil’s Kitchen, some shire lanes, and private property.

Officials coordinator Arron Secombe said there were some great benefits to being a volunteer official.

“As a volunteer rally official, you basically get your own private spectator point,” Mr Secombe said.

“There are roles, such as road closure official, which do not require previous motor sport officiating experience that get you out into the forest where you can experience the sound, speed and excitement of rally.

“It can be just you and a couple of mates enjoying the rally and being out in the bush.”

Volunteer officials receive a hat and access to the official after party where they can meet Australian and Victorian Rally Championship competitors and teams and, if needed, appropriate training and accreditation.