Monaro Stages to “Do it for Deb” in August

Thursday 01 June, 2023
Photo: Wishart Media

This year’s Monaro Stages Rally will have a significantly different feel than previous years.

Usually scheduled for November, the popular Canberra-based rally has been shifted to late August as event organisers look to run the event to celebrate long-time secretary and event founder Debbie Quirk.

Having been involved with the sport for more than four decades, Quirk has been a highly-respected contributor, which has seen her acknowledged for her work on many occasions – including being the recipient of the prestigious Coral Taylor award. 

Sadly, Quirk was diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this year and now currently resides in Riverina Cancer Care Centre in Wagga Wagga where she receives treatment. 

With Quirk a major part of the Monaro Stages since its inception, fellow event founders Kim Winks and David Ballard have been working overtime to get the event running earlier than usual so Quirk can be part of the event for one final time. 

As a result, the event will be donating as much funding as it can to the facility’s Cancer Care Foundation charity. 

The Cancer Care Foundation is a non-for-profit organisation that was established to advance a patient’s health, provide financial support, improve the quality of life of both patients as they undertake cancer treatment and explore new treatment through research.

Get more information about the charity here. 

In order to get the rally running in the short amount of time, Winks and Ballard have been seeking support from a number of organisations to help reduce the cost for the event. 

As part of that support, Motorsport Australia has opted to waive the permit fee for the Light Car Club with the funds to be donated to the charity instead. 

Other areas where the Light Car Club have received reduced fees include Rallysafe, Medical and Road Books with all the remaining funding going to the charity and Winks was overwhelmed with the support.

“Debbie, Dave and I started the Monaro Stages seven years ago and she was always secretary because she is one of the best secretaries you will ever find,” Winks said.

“So we brought the event forward because we felt we needed to give her one last hurrah and give her something to focus on rather than on her treatment and the illness.

“Even though we felt it’s the easiest solution to do, it’s obviously very difficult to run an event in such a short amount of time, which is why we reached out to organisations for help.

“I rang (Motorsport Australia CEO) Eugene Arocca and asked if he contemplated reducing the fee and came back and waived the whole thing, which is very generous and we’re very grateful for it.

“Everyone is willing to donate 100 per cent or apply a heavy discount which is incredible and it really helps. It’s a big weight off our shoulders and it allows us to give more to the charity, which is one of the main reasons for this.

“Debbie is loved by so many and she has been around for a long time so it’s nice we can give her the send off that she properly deserves.”

Not only will the event run much earlier than usual, but it also will be shorter than previous years with the event reduced to 95 competitive kilometres over six stages.

Capped at just 40 entries, Winks revealed the reasons for the reduction was so that there was time for people to spend time with Quirk at the conclusion of the event.

“It’s going to be a quick short rally so we can get the event done and celebrate her life,” Winks added.

“A lot of the time, people don’t get to say goodbye to their loved ones before they pass, so this event will give her nearest and dearest the perfect opportunity to say goodbye.

“Unfortunately, the new date falls on the same weekend as the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship’s Gippsland Rally, but it was the best we could do considering all the roadblocks we are facing. 

“We understand it’s the same weekend as the ARC but this is the minimum allowance we can get for things like a Police permit and we are still awaiting approval, so hopefully we get it.

“For us, the sooner we could get the rally going, the better because we are doing it for Deb.” 

Expressions of interest for the event will be open within the next week and will be available via the Light Car Club of Canberra’s Facebook Page. 

The 2023 Monaro Stages Rally takes place in Cooma on 26 August.

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