Ken Cusack will be attending his 33 rd Alpine in a row this year. He first competed in his 350 Monaro in the 1972 event which was an ARC round. He was in 6 th place when a lower wishbone broke and he had to retire. He was eventually rescued by Jeff Whitten who later started ARN : Australian Rallysport News in 1989.
Ken did a further 5 Alpines always winning his class and in 1975 he also won the “Wooden
Spoon” for finishing last after an off in blinding dust late at night. There was nothing within reach to winch off, so he had to wait for the sweep car to rescue him.
In the Repco Alpine in 1977 he set 3 rd fastest time around the Bright Speedway behind Portman and Greg Carr and was awarded the “Mad Dog” gong from the Bright Speedway Club members.
Ken then became a Key Official of the Alpine Rally for the next 25+ years. He returned to drive in a new Monaro in the 2001 and 2003 events, again winning his class. 7 Alpines for 6 finishes and 6 trophies. Some of the Navigators he scared to death include Stuart Lister, Arthur Willison, Noel Kelly and Mick Brasier.
In the 1980’s Ken took over the scoring of the Alpine, having written his own software to do the job. Sometimes the radio system worked so well he could handout printed results to crews as they booked in to the finish control at Rally HQ. When the Alpine Rally was based at Bright, he stayed in the same Motel room for 21 years straight, including his Honeymoon nights.
He continued to do the Alpine and VRC scoring for many years and was also invited to do scoring at other interstate events as well. Ken also had a Commercial Pilots licence and many Alpine people will remember his “Plummet Airlines” flights to and from many events. After 205 events as a scorer he retired in 2007 and took up a new life in QLD flying for a corporate operator.
These days, Ken is a “backup” Alpine Key Official, he can help in any mode if required, but usually operates in the scoring and results department. A few Alpines ago we gave him the official title of : “Chief Advice Giver”
One of Ken’s favourite Alpine stories is from his service crew : “The Alpine started in Melbourne and transported to Bright. At the last moment I ordered new brake pads from Sydney and these were to be delivered to me at the start from a NSW crew. The part number on the box was correct, but at the Melbourne start they were from a different model and wouldn’t fit ! Peter Thomson (R I P) spent the next 3 hours with 4 different files driving the service van and at the same time filing 4 brake pads to fit back into the car at Bright. How he did this I’ll never know.”
The other notorious story was the Monday morning after the Alpine at Bright. Navigator Arthur was a train enthusiast. As they departed Bright, Ken turned left down the old rail line at Porepunkah and drove the big Monaro down the train tracks to the old Bright train station. Honking his old klaxon horn loudly saw the local Policeman arrive and he attempted to issue Ken a big fine for not having a valid train locomotives licence to operate at that station !
The Alpine is the best event in Australia. If you are new to rallying or have little or no experience, we still need you. Please volunteer at : https://alpinerally.org.au/officials/