WHILE the pre-dawn alarm was annoyingly persistent, the sound of wind and rain outside made the effort of sliding out from under a warm doona even more difficult.
What force would be strong enough to drag a sane person from their Saturday morning sleep-in to brave an unseasonably cold spring morning? How about the opportunity to be involved in something truly remarkable and unique: the smashing of a world record?
We were heading up to the sleepy seaside town of Lancelin, around 90 minutes’ drive north of Perth. Lancelin has beautiful, warm, white and sandy beaches, cool and clear turquoise waters, and a friendly welcoming community with a can-help attitude towards all visitors.
The beaches provide good fishing, awesome kite-boarding and stunning sunsets. Plus it’s impossible to forget that 4WDing and sand-boarding here on the endless white ocean of Lancelin dunes is legendary.
So what better way for the Western Australian 4WD community to show their appreciation for all the good times they’ve enjoyed than to lend a hand to support Lancelin in its bid to rewrite the Guinness World Record for the longest ever 4WD convoy.
This was no simple task, especially when event organiser Kym Illman set his sights on not just beating the previous record of 154 fourbies driving in a line in Qatar, but smashing it.
With a target of 500 4WDs to be registered, recorded, coordinated, officiated, racked and stacked, directed, tracked and ticked off at the finish line, this had to be a team effort.
Mind you, if there was anyone who could have come close to single-handedly achieving this feat it would have been Kym Illman. The MD for Messages On Hold is a successful business mentor, professional wildlife photographer, best-selling author, founder of Canity online training, a competitive racing driver and, proudly, Australia’s most notorious ambush marketer (plus an attentive dad and husband). Yep, Kym’s zest for getting things done would make the Energizer Bunny breathless.
But Kym is deeply committed to promoting the town and strengthening local business opportunities, so organising the Lancelin Muster was just another challenge that was going to be done to the best of Kym’s considerable ability. It turned out that registering 500 4WDs was the only easy part.
Kym said: “Initially I put a single post on Facebook to see if any would be interested. Having received 189 responses in record time it was a strong enough indication that there was more than enough traction to make this happen.”
In fact, more than 200 vehicles pre-registered before ticket sales officially went online. And when they did, the tickets sold out within a week.
“Given Lancelin’s dunes are such a drawcard for 4WD enthusiasts, we thought a world record attempt would draw a huge number of them to town,” Kym reckoned. “About 10 per cent of the town’s population was directly involved with the event, either through financial support or volunteering. There’s no doubt it drew locals closer together and the visitors who entered were full of praise for the warm welcome they received.”
With the support of the local shire council and the overwhelming majority of local businesses and residents willing to put their support behind such a great community event, it was destined to be a success.
The day started at 7.00am when Nola and Mick Brown from the Lancelin Beach Hotel had VIP ticketholders enjoying a hot cooked buffet breakfast to get the energy levels up for the day ahead. The anticipation was already building, smiles widened and the camaraderie and witty jokes between brand loyalists flowed back and forth. Anyone who stopped the convoy by getting bogged was never going to live it down!
By 8:00am an army of marshals was directing arriving vehicles into designated parking areas, and drivers were lined up at the registration booth where, thanks to Tonya Illman’s organisational skills and Lyn McSherry’s efficiency, the registration process ran smoothly.
Mark Haffenden from Eureka 4WD Training and I worked through the sea of 4WDs to choose some worthy winners for ‘Show ’n’ Shine’ prizes – a challenging task given the number of owners whose pride was clearly reflected in the presentation of their vehicles.
Expertly led by a police escort provided by Sargent Steve McCrea and Constable Grabe, the 4x4s safely paraded through Lancelin to form up at the base of the dunes. Sargent McCrea commented: “It was a pleasure to be involved. There was a brilliant atmosphere and positive interaction between participants, committee, organisers, helpers and emergency services.”
Looking across the row upon row of 4WDs as they stretched across the white sands all lined up ready for the event was an impressive sight. The atmosphere was electric and the excitement was building. The Hon Christian Porter MP said: “Without a doubt the best event I’ve seen in my electorate and probably the state over the past decade. Absolutely outstanding!”
As the countdown began there was a huge eruption of vehicle horns and a deafening cheer from the crowd as Christian Porter waved the checkered flag back and forth to bring the pace car across the start line. Mark Haffenden and Byron Palmer counted out the vehicles as they left the start line and, to be absolutely sure the record was safely validated, Frank Peczka (Lancelin’s postmaster) and I stood by to record each 4WD as it successfully completed the required course distance.
Slowly and methodically weaving its way back and forth like an enormous prehistoric mechanical serpent, the convoy took on a life of its own. From the air it resembled a procession of ants avoiding all distractions, sticking to a singular focus with one objective in mind: to stay on track and cross that finish line. Even Mother Nature smiled; the warm sunshine was a welcome relief after the cold, wet start to the day. Slowly but surely the convoy moved in unison as the distance from the lead vehicle to the finish line became shorter with each completed turn.
The sense of tension and excitement as the pace car crossed the line was heightened by the cheering of passengers in each consecutive vehicle as they passed the finishing post. 10, 20, 30; the numbers continued to climb. 130, 140, 150, 154; the same number of vehicles as the original record. The screams of delight and achievement from vehicle 155 as it topped the record were amazing, but there was no time to celebrate yet. 200, 250, 300, 350. With 400 looming in our sights, the energy from the crowd and cheers from the vehicles had reached fever pitch. 420, 430, 440. Finally the last vehicle crossed the line as number 449 – what an outstanding achievement and accomplishment from the community of Lancelin.
Read more about the behind-the-scenes activities of the world record attempt in an upcoming issue of 4X4 Australia.
SPONSORS TO THANK
Line-X Protective Coatings
Perth Diesel Performance
Off Road Equipment ORE
Midland 4WD Centre
Modern Motor Trimmers
Eureka 4WD Training
Land Rover Experience