Eventual 2017 AORC champion Matt Martin in action during the inaugural St George 399. Photo: Alan McIntosh
The 2020 BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship was scheduled to begin next month with the fourth edition of the Cobb & Co Hotel St George 399.
However due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Queensland based event was unfortunately postponed to a later date with many Australians required to self-isolate within their homes, making the championship unable to begin for the time being.
At the heart of the national championship’s season opener is the South East Queensland Off Road Racing Association (SEQORRA), a humble club that will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.
Back in 1991, the club was formed when passionate off road members of the Brisbane Sporting Car Club wanted to have a club specifically tailored to their beloved discipline.
Since its inauguration, club President Andrew Hickson was proud of where it had come after all those years, putting it down to the passionate members.
“We are a club made up of mainly competitors. While, we don’t have many officials, we borrow officials from other clubs and try return the favour to help out at other events as much as we can,” Hickson said.
“Being part of the Brisbane Sporting Car Club was great, but it was a club with multiple disciplines and we were passionate off road people who wanted to focus on solely that, so when we eventually split from them, we were ready to start our own club.
“It’s been a good run so far as we have almost reached 30 years. We have around 40 members and we’re a tight knit group. As with all clubs, we would like more people involved but for the moment, we’re really happy.
“We’re quite an experienced club when it comes to running off road events too. Over the years we have run a few state rounds, as well as short and long course club events. We also had another national round previously, which made us quite experienced for the St George 399.
The club’s experience at the national level was apparent back in 2017 when they were given the opportunity to convert their local long course event in St George to a national round.
Pulling it off in just three months, the event has moved ahead in leaps and bounds since the club first rushed it together four years ago. And as they continue to grow it, the interest also increases - the 70 plus drivers entered in the previous two years proving their successful formula works.St George 399 Clerk of Course Barry Neuendorff in front of one of the event's biggest supports - the St George Bakery
With so many crews marking down the St George 399 as a must do, Hickson believes the local support has been instrumental in building it to what it is now.
“We were planning this year’s version to be bigger than Ben Hurr, so hopefully we can get still get that opportunity later this year,” Hickson explained.
“When we first ran it, we didn’t have a chance to be excited because it was such a quick turnaround. Planning our usual long course round in the town, we received a call from Motorsport Australia director Laurence Svenson asking us to run it as a national round.
“We were very proud to get it off the ground in just three months and even more so when it was awarded with the 2017 Motorsport Australia Queensland Event of the Year.
“After the first event, we started planning on how we could improve it and every year we try to make it better. It seems to work because every year people give us positive feedback on how good it’s become.
“Put simply, we’ve been able to grow the event because of the increased support from town and the local council. Both have been incredible with their support. The locals have also been brilliant, especially Trent Challenger who has been the driving force in St George for us.”