Former Bega man Ty Hooper will join nine other local pairings to contest the Momsen Motors Hyundai Bega Valley Rally this weekend.
Entries closed on Monday with a total of 68 driver-navigator pairs to line up for the 2019 edition - up about 10 on last year.
It will feature 10 Bega combinations as well as high profile visitors like four-time Australian Rally champion Neal Bates, 2017 Australian champion Nathan Quinn and 2017 NSW Champion Bryan Van Eck.
It's incredible for me to revisit something that has always been a pinnacle [of NSW rallying],Ty Hooper
However, most will be out to chase local favourite Ben Barker as he and co-driver Beau Griggs chase their third straight crown.
Mr Hooper said he was eager to catch up with everyone from the rallying circles where he made a start in the sport 30 years ago, while saying the Bega Valley Rally was a pinnacle for NSW events and co-driver Mick Stewart was also eager for the visit.
"It's incredible for me to revisit something that has always been a pinnacle," he said. "Upper Cobargo particularly has always been a staple for the rally, it's a great Shire Road - technical and fast all in one.
"We're a bit further back than we'd like because we're not seeded, but we're here to have a bit of fun and be part of it."
President of the Sapphire Coast Sporting Car Club Kim Boyd said the Rally had grown each year and organisers were incredibly grateful for the support of Rob and Bec Motbey of Momsen Motors.
"We want to show our appreciation and recognise their support of the rally," he said.
Mr Boyd said Rob was likely to be out and about on the weekend helping crews as he was an avid motorsport fan and racer himself.
Meanwhile, three of the organising committee will contest the event, including two partnering with their wives for the 14-stage competition.
"We love it," Mr Boyd said. "We love organising it, but getting out to participate is something else."
Other valley drivers will include Kalaru mechanic Leigh Manning and Logan Waterhouse, Max Roberts and Graham Stafford, David Stephens and Lynda Leigh, Jarra McKay-Collins with River Gunn, Josh and Lisa Bobbin, Alexander Eadie and Clay Ellison and Kurt Slater and Kelly Brown.
Beyond the local interest, Mr Boyd said it was amazing to draw the interest of some of rallying's most prominent names.
"For someone like Neal Bates to come out is huge, for him to choose to come and do our rally out of the few he will get to do this year is fantastic," he said.
"We're delighted with the quality of the field that has entered."
For Mr Hooper, the rally is a return to his roots where he cut his teeth as a budding driver in the 80s after picking up the sport from fellow Bega racer David Eadie.
"We had a metal fabrication business my father and I and David used to get us to do bits and pieces for him and work on his Mazda," Mr Hooper said.
He started at 16, running a Datsun 1600 in the Eden Esso Rally before contesting the Bega Valley Rally for many years starting in 1987.
"I've done it several times, in several different cars," he said with a laugh.
He has raced Mitsubish Lancers, Datsun Stanzas and others, but has since gone back to the classic Mazda Familia.
Mr Hooper joked he went for the hatch-back because it was cheap, but went on to say it was a wonderfully nimble and stable car.
As a former Reliance Motorsport worker and friend of John Waterhouse, Mr Hooper said he had a soft spot for Mazdas and a particular love for his car, which is a rare front-wheel drive turbo GT model of the Familia.
"The four-wheel drives weren't real good with the gearbox, so this was a great option and it's rare too, there weren't too many brought to the country."
the rally will have a bit extra meaning for Mr Hooper, who will drive for the memory of Greg Bobbin, a big proponent in Ty's early career.
"I was into driving the Datsun with Gene Bobbin and his brother Greg, it's so unfortunate that he passed away recently.
"Greg was very big into rallying down in Eden and I'd like to pay tribute to him, I don't want people to forget him - he was incredibly helpful for me when I was growing up."
There will be a number of spectator points across the weekend, including three competition stages and two service areas to check out the cars and meet some of the crews.
The best opportunities to see some of the cars and crews will be at the parade ground at the Bega Showground from about 8am Saturday morning.
The first car will leave for stage one around 1pm with crews to return to the Showground later in the afternoon for a service before heading south.
The first official competition viewpoint will be a night stage at "Wombat" along Burrawang Road 11km south of the Seahorse Inn. The first car is expected around 6pm Saturday night.
The second will be 11.40am on Sunday and is located 20km south of the Seahorse Inn service park at Ireland-Timms road.
There will be a reverse leg of the Wombat spectator point with cars expected from 1.10pm on Sunday.
Full details and maps of the spectator areas can be downloaded here
Printed guides will be available at the Bega Showground on Saturday and at the Seahorse Inn at Boydtown.
A big field
With a total of 68 driver-navigator pairs taking part, Mr Boyd said this year's rally was the biggest since it returned.
"We've seen year-on-year growth since we've resurrected it," he said.
There will be cars to suit most rally fans from the classics like Datsun 1600s, Mazda RX2s a couple of 80s Toyota Celicas and more as well as the more modern modified 4WDs including Mitsubish Evos and Subaru Imprezas.
Here is the full list of entries:
Jake McIlroy - Tara McIlroy 2001 Toyota Corolla
Ryan Price - Amanda Williams 1994 Ford XR6
Ron Moore - Jo Moore 1999 Mitsubishi EVO VI
Nathan Quinn - Ray Winwood-Smith 1970 Mazda RX2
Jeff Davies - Dane Booker 1970 Datsun 1600
Jody Mill - Michael Bannon 2004 Mitsubishi Evo VIII
Michael Tori - Jamie McIntyre 2000 Toyota Altezza
Riley Walters - Jeffrey Williamson 2006 Subaru WRX
Jason Williams - Ryan Retton Howe 1974 Peugeot 504
Jamie Luff - Brad Luff 1983 Toyota Sprinter
PJ O'Keeffe - Paddy Skelton 1979 Ford Escort
Tony Jordan - Richard Davidson 1974 Triumph Stag
Brent Dutoit - Aaron Pearce 1986 BMW 318i
Bryan Van Eck - Lizzy Ferme 1999 Toyota Altezza
David Williams - Matt Kennedy 1980 Toyota Corolla
Peter Moore - Sue Moore 2002 Subaru WRX
Peter Mill - Michael Ryan 1994 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo II
Peter Thompson - Ken Hind 1976 Toyota RA23 Celica
Leigh Manning - Logan Waterhouse 1970 Datsun 1600
Dean Ridge - Damian Grahame 2001 Mitsubishi Evo VI
Andy Pierce - Tony Botrall 1986 Nissan Gazelle
Brett Middleton - Oscar Middleton 1991 Honda Civic
Neil Schey - Scott Middleton 1979 Ford Escort RS2000
Dean Batt - Peter Batt 1985 Holden Commodore Berlina
Toby Ivanovic - Tom Flegl 1991 Subaru RS Turbo
Darkie Barr-Smith - Jono Forrest 1977 Datsun 200B
Ronald McKinnon - Stephen McKinnon 1976 Mitsubishi Lancer LA
Patrick Ryan - Katherine Flemming 1988 Nissan R31 Skyline
Wade Ryan - Trent Brassil 1974 Datsun 180B SSS
Gary Poyntz - Stephen O'Hanlon 2003 Toyota Landcruiser
Craig Jarvie - Aidan O'Halloran 1980 Holden Commodore
Jake Bramble - Josh Love 1971 Datsun 1200
Brian Newton - Jason Lennane 1995 Honda EG6
Michael Batt - John Duff-Gordon 1979 Holden Commodore
Kelly Caruana - Ellie Yates 1979 Holden Commodore
Jayke Skeffington - Mark Patroni 1998 Subaru WRX
Ed Mulligan - Ben Richards 1978 Ford Escort
Chris Jaques - Kate Jaques 2001 Mitsubishi EVO IX
Kim Boyd - Vicki Boyd 1996 BMW 318ti
Col Pogson - Dave Anderson 1998 Holden Commodore
Michael Broholm - Andrew Collins 1934 Plymouth PE
Michael Valantine - Jason Fraser 1971 Datsun 1600
John Joyner - Chris Warwick 1999 Mitsubishi Evo VI
Peter Neal - Craig Whyburn 1998 Subaru WRX
Meng Chung - Mike Behnke 2005 Honda Integra Type-R
Ty Hooper Michael - Stewart 1989 Mazda Familia
Jon Waterhouse - Carolyn Wilson 1986 Mazda RX7
Dennis Stevens - Frank Brookhouse 1999 Honda S2000
Evan Bollard - Phillip Bonser 1972 Mazda RX2
David Stephens - Lynda Leigh 1996 Subaru WRX
Neil Roediger - Edward Arthur 1979 Holden Commodore
Alexander Eadie - Clay Ellison 2005 BMW 130i
Kurt Slater - Kelly Brown 1974 Nissan Stanza
Andrew Penny - Kirra Penny TBC Subaru WRX STI
Joshua Bobbin - Lisa Bobbin 2006 Subaru WRX
Neal Bates - Coral Taylor 1980 Toyota Celica RA40
Jarra McKay - Collins River Gunn 1996 Ford Falcon
Russel Winks - Stephen Hodgkin 1984 Holden Commodore
Carl Stewart - Matt James 1971 Datsun 1600
James Price - Maisie Place 1980 Ford Escort
Michael O'Hagan - Eoin Moynihan 1978 Ford MKII Escort
Matthew Ruggles - Guy Ruggles 1994 Mitsubishi Evo III
Kevin Ashby - Rae Waterhouse 1985 Nissan Silvia
Ben Barker - Beau Griggs 1983 BMW 318is
Max Roberts - Graham Stafford 1977 Toyota Celica RA28
Greg Otton - Tiffanie Hepburn 1984 BMW 318i
Ryan Kelly - Brian Clark 1979 Ford Escort MKII
Ross Donaldson - Bruce Donaldson 1999 Hyundai Excel