I have been in Tassie trucking for four months now, met heaps of great, happy, casual, relaxed people both on the road, and off the road. Until today, when I spent what felt like a week transiting from Southern Outlet to Brighton.
‘Just Add Water’ was the key: it rained.
Now this is not new for traffic anywhere, as a truckie, you always have your usual suspects in the rain, your crazed tradies racing home for their well deserved beer, mums doing the school run in a traumatised state with kids yelling and talking at once and of course your P-platers. You know, the bulletproof ones who got to level 52 on Days of Thunder and expert level on Grand Theft Auto.
But what made it different today was in Hobart: anyone and everyone can enter the Brooker Highway 500.
The rain turned a lot of happy Tasmanians into crazed wombats.
Crawling down to red Rison Road/Brooker Highway lights, I got a good look at the starting grid. On pole you had Auntie Clara in the green Mazda 2 who obviously buckled up the five point harness and was both footing it for the start. Bob the Banker in his flash blue Range Rover had clearly loosened his tie and slipped on the moleskin racing gloves. And on the outside lane was the rank outsider, Henry and Edna in the brown Colorado with obligatory Mitzi the fluffy Pomeranian on the back seat.
When they donned full face helmets (even Mitzi was issued a bike helmet!), I knew it was going to be a hot lap to the Bridgewater Bridge. Henry and Edna were handicapped by the 18’Jayco on the back (complete with the mandatory ‘Spending the Kids Inheritance’ sticker and UHF 18/40 on the rear). And there was no shortage of contenders behind them.
When the lights changed, they all dropped the hammer to get into two lanes. I couldn’t hear Auntie Clara light it up on the wet road, but she wobbled and those behind sensed the fear.
Bob the Banker clearly watches a lot of YouTube and held his line, with the Colorado sooting it up like a V8 Superliner on the outside trying to get in for the merge.
Others were jockeying for position. Seriously it was the best sight, like the opening lap at Bathurst! Henry flicked the Jayco like a champion truck ‘n dog operator forcing a place behind Bob and up her, Edna gripping the Jesus Bar and no doubt promising Henry sweet things should he bring her victory.
I wandered along serenely behind, as the lights at Lampton Ave were red. As soon as it was three lanes again, they all lined up again three abreast.
Auntie Clara had held pole, as did Bob, but Henry was boxed in by a group of caravan haters and Yummy Mummies heading to home with the staving gremlins to feed and wine for her to numb her thoughts.
The lights changed and they were into again. It was hilarious to watch, no indicators, abrupt changes, road rules and courtesy out the window onto the wet road. And so it went on, in the rain at each set of lights where they could get three wide.
In the midst of all this madness was little 16-year-old Hillary on her L’s in her mum’s Magna, white knuckles on the wheel wondering why the f***k Mum let her drive her home from school.
Mum was jarred up on Valium and laughing her head off as Hillary sat beside my drive tyres holding back the Brooker 500 contestants for a time, but the pressure got to her and she caved!
At Elwich lights the pack thinned out, but when the green light flashed, it was full noise, Henrys Jayco bouncing along like a box trailer as he opened the taps on the Colorado to wind up to full snot for the run down Conrod Straight…..I mean the Brooker Highway to the Bridgewater bottleneck.
I gave the win today to Bob the Banker, with Auntie Clara dropping back on Conrod after staying at 110km/h only. Henry rounded her up and held on for second place.
Can’t wait for tomorrow’s event in more rain.
About the author:
After 30 years on the mainland, veteran truckie Paul Stanton, pictured below, now drives for SRT Logistics based at Brighton Hobart.