Bill Geddes took out King of the River at inaugural Don River Dash.
Bill Geddes took out King of the River at inaugural Don River Dash.

Coronavirus ‘accelerates growth’ of Bowen off-road race

A MOTORSPORT event set to return to Bowen may be one of the success stories to come out of the coronavirus pandemic, with the race now gearing up to welcome more competitors than first expected.

The Don River Dash is set to take place on September 5 and 6 this year, after more than 100 racers flew along the riverbed of the Don River at last year’s inaugural event.

Burdekin Offroaders president and an organiser of the event, Michael Marson, said that despite initial caution due to the coronavirus pandemic, the race was now expected to bring in more racers than initially planned.

Such has been the interest in the event, Marson said the pandemic may have pushed the Don River Dash years forward in its development cycle.

Bill Geddes took out King of the River at inaugural Don River Dash.
Bill Geddes took out King of the River at inaugural Don River Dash.

“We’re seeking that final approval, but it’s all in and we’re 99.9 per cent it’s going ahead now,” he said.

“It could be one of the first motorsports events back and we’re seeing applications from as far as South Australia come in, especially as many championship races were cancelled and people are now looking just for a fun race.

“Last year we saw 40 off-road vehicles, we’re looking at 60 already, and we’ll have to cap the motorbikes at 150 because interest is looking so good”.

Marson said they learnt “a hell of a lot” from last year’s event, from food vendors to local organisations willing to hop on board and support the race.

He said the long term goal of the event was to put Bowen “on the map” and make it one of the “must-race” events on the motorsport calendar.

Keith Daley at the 2019 Burdekin 300. He was among the competitors in the Don River Dash.
Keith Daley at the 2019 Burdekin 300. He was among the competitors in the Don River Dash.

“Finke is the big desert race in Australia that everyone immediately thinks of when you talk off-roading, but it didn’t become as big as it is now overnight,” Marson said.

“That’s the goal of the Don River Dash, to keep building it up every year and put Bowen on the map as a must-race location.

“From a post-coronavirus perspective it’s brilliant as well as more people will travel to North Queensland and stay in the region, spend their money and tell their friends.

“A video from last year’s event went viral in South Australia and had about 20,000 views – those people are now calling me and asking about this race in Bowen that they are dying to be a part of.

“As much as COVID-19 has been horrible in so many ways, it could accelerate the growth of this event by a couple of years, if not more.”


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