May 25th, 2019. As we charged head-long into winter, beanies were donned and kids were crammed into back seats as we made our way out to Mulgrave to meet up with the Custom Cars and Coffee Melbourne crew for our second partnered event.
The entry list was bulging, with 57 cars entered (and several more filling the Village Green car park), and around 100 people signed up for lunch at the Baxter Tavern.
But first, there was the small matter of driving – after all, it is what we’re all about… and our drive route masters David Henry and David James had come up with a Mornington Peninsula cruise to see out autumn.
Thanks to the team at ALPINA Australia, my wheels for this one were pretty special: the twin-turbo, V8-powered B5 S Biturbo.
It’s one of those vehicles that those in the know, know… and as soon as I’d parked I was in conversation with a passer-by about how he had an ALPINA back in the 1980s and how the B5 was his dream car.
Suitably engaged, I introduced the day to our assembled crowd — who had arrived in everything from MX-5s to 1980s Corvettes, a rare DJR-modified Falcon to a Porsche GT3 RS — with a special guest.
A close personal friend and professional colleague, Nick, has been a regular at our drives since late-2018. I asked him to speak about his mental health journey and how Drive Against Depression has assisted him in getting his life back on track after a torrid time in the recent past.
Nick spoke eloquently and openly about his journey, and is the personification of what we aim to do for people who are struggling with their mental health: we want people to be inspired to leave the house and enjoy the freedom that driving brings, within a like-minded community.
Thankfully I was able to share much of the day with Nick in the car alongside, where we discussed everything from Frank Dernie’s opinion of Nigel Mansell (listen to this Motorsport podcast if you’re into 1980s Formula One intrigue) to the pressures Nick has faced with his mental health in the last year or so. It makes me proud to see him laughing on our DAD events.
What journey to the peninsula would be complete without a stop on Arthur’s Seat? The sky had cleared enough for us to take over the top car park and admire the view, and it was here that some lucky attendees had the experiences of a life time.
Firstly, Justin from Honda Australia had brought along the incredible, hybrid-powered hypercar, the reborn NSX. Justin was raising funds for us by offering passenger rides up the hill for the highest bidders.
Meanwhile, Benny from Unique Car Rentals, who had caused quite a stir by turning up in a gorgeous Ferrari 458 Italia, gave the keys away for a steer! Needless to say, there was a small stampede…
For the next leg, it was great to see another DAD regular, Megan, take the wheel of partner Brendan’s Mitsubishi Evo. Brendan might have jumped into the NSX’s passenger seat, but it was great to convoy with Megan again.
Over-flowing the Baxter Tavern car park, it was another moment of pause as I found Sarah and the girls in our humble DAD-liveried Ford Focus. They were already into the kids’ meals as Nick and I pulled up and started chatting to some fresh faces about the charity’s purpose, while listening to our attendees’ stories. It seems that everyone we bump into has been impacted by poor mental health, either directly or by being close to someone who has struggled. But it’s just awesome to see everyone chatting over chips, being able to alternate laughs with deep discussion, strengthened by our community’s love of motoring.
Until next time,
Imagery provided by the legendary Dishan Marikar. To see his works of art, check out: http://dmarikar.com