Let’s meet a COT official that everyone likes, but that nobody wants to see during the event – because he drives the sweep car! Jim Reddiex has been part of every COT, the Red Centre to Gold Coast and much, much more. He’s a member of the Australian Rally Hall of Fame and a genuine rally legend.
Whats your usual role on the COT? What do you do? What do you drive out there?
I drive the sweep car. My vehicle for all the COT’s so far has been my 1999 NL diesel Pajero, which has just ticked over 375000 kms. It has been incredibly reliable but starting to feel its age – which may have something to do with the number of kilometres done on forest tracks and outback roads. Val is pushing me to update, but its like an old pair of shoes that are so comfortable that you hate parting with them. Also seems a shame to take a new car off into the wilds.
Who will be traveling with you? What’s your history as a team?
My team has always included Alex Ross – he is the brains behind getting results back to HQ. My input, apart from getting him around the course, is sometimes holding the control card while he takes and sends the photo. On various occasions we have been accompanied by Alex’s wife Jenny and my sons Andrew and Ian. Last year my boys weren’t available so we were joined by Brisbane Sporting Car Club admin officer Margaret Mackay. Alex and I did it on our own once which is much easier on the car but it is nice to have family involved.
You’ve been an official on the COT before… what do you like about the event – what has bought you back?
The COT, first and foremost, is a gathering of like-minded people out doing something they enjoy. As you get to know them you tend to share their highs and lows. As sweep, we tend to share more of the lows than highs but it also great to be able to help them get going if we can. Sometimes it is putting them back on their wheels, towing them through a creek or out of sand, offering advice on mechanical issues or supplying water or fuel. These little meetings often start a bit of banter between us – friendly of course! What brings me back? Snooks and Bernadou. And I do enjoy having my own little fang with no pressure!
What are your expecting from the 2016 COT; what are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the 2016 event because it will bring back a lot of memories of competing and surveying of tracks used in the Australian Safari. Also, the concept of returning to Alice Springs each night helps to keep those who experience problems in the the event and adds to social side of things.
Have you been to Alice Springs before? What are you expecting or looking forward to seeing?
Yes, I have spent a lot of time in and around Alice Springs because of my involvement with the Safari over many years.
Are you planning a bit of a Red Centre holiday as part of your rally? Will your partner, family or friends be joining you?
I am hopeful that wife Val will come with me. But, it is a matter of finding something for her to do during the event as she definitely wont come with me when I am hurrying along station tracks trying to stay close to the competitors. My experience of station tracks and course directors is that there are often fallen trees and over hanging branches which they are happy to sneak around or under during surveys but competitors, if they are trying, don’t have the luxury of time to avoid such things at great cost to mirrors, windscreens and aerials. So, I will be offering to go earlier and if need be drive the course and do a little cleaning up.
What is your rallying and officialling background? How did you become part of the COT team?
My association with rallying goes back to the very first Redex Trial when, as a second year apprentice, I worked on a couple of Citroen Light 15s that took part. I also helped with servicing the Citroen team from Adelaide on in the 1968 London to Sydney and prepared and serviced a car for the Ogiers in the 1970 Ampol Trial. I was a late starter as a driver, my first event was in 1973. As a competitor I started to wonder how all these people manning controls got to all these places in the middle of the forest and how did directors find all these tracks that went somewhere. As soon as I showed some interest in how a rally was organised I was greeted with open arms and before long was a “Clerk of Course”. I have to blame Tom Snooks for my involvement in a number of events including Targa Tasmania and the COT.
What is you most memorable COT moment – what sticks in your mind?
Memorable moments are many but one that stands out is the reaction of a sole service crew member at the end of the Red Centre event at the Gold Coast. For what seemed like the whole event, we waited for his crew to get going. Late time seem to have no concern, for as they stopped for smokes and fussed with minor problems on the road – and this drove his lone service crew to distraction. On the very last stage, before the run to the finish, we heard the crew on the radio telling the serviceman that they had stopped for an ice cream and heard his urging them to hurry up. When they eventually booked in they were four minutes out of late time. And, as it was the last control, they were deemed to have missed it and would be classified as a non-finisher. I suggested to Garry Searle “You may have misread the clock Garry I am sure they just made it”. Garry gave me a look, but checked it. In the meantime, the serviceman had erupted into a tirade directed at his crew – he was tearing strips off them, telling them that they were here to rally and not swan around having ice creams. I was very pleased though to let him know that that Garry had reread the clock and all was well! The serviceman sent me a very nice card thanking me for my help and patience!
What is/was your favourite rally car?
My best rally cars were those supplied by Ralliart because they didn’t cost me anything! My favourite was one I built out of our 1977 London/Sydney car. It was a Citroen CX 2400 5 speed manual which I had parked fairly heavily against a tree while winning the Pacific 1000 rally in Townville. The CX was a bit big for forest rallies so I shortened the chassis rails and fitted it under a Citroen GS body. I was able to get a limited slip diff from Citroen competition dept, gave the cam a slight grind and fitted twin Webers. It was a very satisfying car to drive.
What is your most memorable rallying moment?
I suppose being a member of the winning crew in a car which I built for the 1974 London Sahara Munich Rally has got to be the highlight, but right up there with it is second outright in the 1991 Safari where I was the sole driver.
What will you be doing to get ready for the 2016 COT?
For 2016 I have to decide whether I drive the old car or drive a replacement. Either way I will be doing what ever I can to hopefully have a trouble free run. On a personal note, I had better concentrate on being above ground with a pulse because by COT time I will be getting very close to 80!
Where are you, and what are you doing as you answer these questions?
I am at my home at Clear Mountain on the outskirts of Brisbane, recovering from a couple of weeks involvement in helping in the running of the International Rally of Queensland.