Questions with...

Questions with: Penny Swan

Penny Swan is back with us for COT 2016 after a break for a few years – her last COT was 2009. Let’s meet Penny and hear her story…

What car will you be running in the 2016 COT? What is special; what is its history; where is it at?
I will be competing in the 1975 Volvo 242 D/L. It is a great car and has certainly seen some adventures. Mum and Dad ran it in the 2007 East African Safari Rally, a number of tarmac and gravel events around Australia, including a few COT events. I also competed in the 2006 Rally of Melbourne, 2008 Red Centre Trial, 2009 Classic Outback Trial and 2013 Alpine Rally in the Volvo. The car has had it’s fair share of troubles along the way… but it is a strong car, a lot of fun to drive, very forgiving and more often than not gets us to the finish line.

Penny and

The Red Centre to Gold Coast in 2008

Who will be in your team? Who is your co-driver, team manager or service crew? What’s your history as a team?
The 2016 COT will be a family affair for our team. Mum will be joining me as co-driver and Dad and my son Archie will be heading up the service crew. We will really be missing our regular head mechanic, Doug Beaton but hope to have a few other rally friends join us on the adventure to help out (with the servicing and support). My 3 year old is very excited about joining his Grandpa for the road trip – and i am really looking forward to competing with Mum again. We make a pretty good team and always have a lot of fun.

If you’ve competed in the COT before, what do you like about the event – what has bought you back?
I competed in the 2009 Classic Outback Trial. It was a fantastic event – covering such diverse terrain. We experienced a few mechanical issues throughout the event but still made it to the finish. I don’t get much of an opportunity to compete any more so the endurance aspect is really appealing, particularly in and around the outback. It gives me a chance to drive away the cobwebs and cover plenty of competitive kilometres – so I hopefully finish the event faster than I started. The people (organising, competing, supporting and generally involved) are also a big drawcard.


Penny and Tracy Lee in the 2009 COT

What are your expecting from the 2016 COT; what are you looking forward to?
I am really looking forward to time in the outback, getting into the rhythm again behind the wheel and hopefully building speed as the week progresses and having the chance to catch up with rally friends.

Have you been to Alice Springs before? What are you expecting or looking forward to seeing?
Alice Springs was the starting point for both the 1999 Australian Safari and 2008 Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial – both of which I competed in. It provided the most idyllic backdrop for competition and I can’t wait to share it with my son, Archie. I have also been fortunate to travel there on a few other occasions on holiday and with work. It really is a beautiful part of the world.


Pushing very hard in COT 2009 – and on the way to an outright win on this stage, Elah. The boot assisting with air braking… maybe.

Are you planning a bit of a Red Centre holiday as part of your rally? Will your partner, family or friends be joining you?
We will be taking 3 weeks to make the most of the COT experience, including the road trip and time exploring the outback before and after the event.

Who are your sponsors or supporters?
No official sponsors but we are very thankful to always have support from Tony Robinson at R-Tech Enhancements and Craig Robinson at Trackside Tyres that help with the preparation of the rally car. I also have to thank Mum and Dad for the loan of the car … pretty important sponsorship.

What is/was your favourite rally car?
I haven’t competed a great deal nor had a chance to drive too many cars – but the Volvo rivals my old Datsun 1600 as my favourite. I do however covet a Mk2 Escort …. one day!

The 2013 Alpine Rally

The 2013 Alpine Rally

What is your most memorable rallying moment?
Most of my memories of rallying are really great ones but highlights would be winning a stage in 2009 COT, my first outright stage win – and the final Mindil Beach stage of the 1999 Australian Safari.

What will you be doing to get ready for the 2016 COT?
I have competed only once in 7 years … so it might be wise to get some driving practise in before the event. That will be the aim – a few events to get used to driving again. Dad is very generously doing all rally prep on the car and running it in on the 2015 Alpine Rally. Preparation for 2016 COT will otherwise be very understated.

Where are you, and what are you doing as you answer these questions?
I am sitting in my office, rugged up … wishing I was in the outback sunshine!

Thanks Penny. Great to have another family crew with us – three generations of Swans on COT 2016! Please keep us posted on your preparations. And thanks to James Elliott and John Doutch for the pics with this story.


Team Swan on the road in the Outback