It’s rare to hear the words ‘What a shitbox!’ said about your wheels and to be able to take it as a compliment.
But Laura Beverley from Nambucca Heads wears it as a badge of honour – she’s sourced her baby from South Australia where cars don’t need to go through the onerous rego checks that NSW cars do.
In fact, this year, she’s determined to not only win the elusive prize for best shitbox, but also to kill her $300 HJ Kingswood ute on the way up to Darwin.
“If your car croaks, you get a medal that says your car died, which I want so bad!” Laura said.
Laura is currently preparing herself for her fourth Shitbox Rally; it’s the largest independent fundraiser for the Cancer Council in which 250 teams drive 2-wheel drive cars worth less than $1000, across 3800kms of the toughest roads in Australia.
Since the rally was founded in 2009 it has raised over $14 million to fund cancer research, and Laura has proudly raised $40,000 of that herself.
“I got involved in these rallies because, at age 20, I had lost more people then I could count on my fingers to cancer. It was a way for me to heal and raise much needed funds,” she said.
“This reason hasn’t changed, I’m now 24 but am still losing way too many people to cancer every year.”
In fact the drive is even stronger in her now, after losing her Mum to complications from cancer on Day 2 of last year’s rally.
“Mum was the reason I got into it – she saw one of the cars coming back from Darwin in 2014 and said ‘we’ve gotta do this’, so we registered in 2015 and never looked back.
“When I finally came back into reception during last year’s rally and had hundreds of calls on my phone, I just knew something was up.
“I was shocked because she was fine just before I left.
“We let Mum fight for a bit longer, but she died the next day.
I made the choice to keep on going ‘cos Mum woulda called me a dickhead otherwise, especially when I couldn’t do anything for her.
This year’s rally from Brisbane to Darwin will be a particularly poignant ride, and Laura has something special up her sleeve.
“Mum always said she was gonna come back on the rally if it went back to Darwin,” she said.
“So some of the crews and I, we’re gonna do a little toast to her when we hit the Northern Territory.”
And that won’t be the only touching moment of the trek – the rally also plans to stop by Mt Isa on the way through to the NT in order to hold a memorial service for one of their own who was killed in a car crash at Easter.
They also plan to donate $25,000 to his family.
Then on Day 6 when they hit Katherine, the rally will stop by to honour the memory of Dolly Everett – the young girl who took her own life after rampant bullying.
“We’re gonna support Dolly’s Dream and we’ll meet Dolly’s family when we arrive in Darwin,” Laura said.
“Our main aim is to support the Cancer Council, but we’ve teamed up with other organisations over the years, and we like to help out drought-stricken communities along the way.”
Over the coming week there’ll likely be a rag-tag convoy of colourfully-decorated shitboxes from all over the country scraping their way through Nambucca on their way up to the starting line in Brisbane.
Laura’s decided to keep hers ‘au naturale’.
“We like to run the gamble of ‘leave them how we find them’ and see if any cops pull us over,” she said.
“We go plain and simple to let the car tell the story – the more rust the better.
Last year we were Fred Flintstoning it – it had so much rust you could practically poke your head out through the top.
Laura will be departing for Brisbane on May 17, and she’s already raised $7500 of her $10K target.
If you would like to help Laura to support the Cancer Council then you can contact her on 0435 725 732 to make a donation.