February 24, 2015 | General


ADELAIDE motorsport fans can do their bit to support the heroes of the South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) at the Clipsal 500 this weekend thanks to the efforts of a local Touring Car Masters racer caught on the fringe of January’s Sampson Flat bushfires.

One Tree Hill resident Nigel Benson and his wife Rita saw the devastation first hand and have since turned their efforts into recognising the outstanding contribution of CFS Volunteers that they witnessed saving properties near their home.

As well as racing his 1973 Holden HQ Monaro GTS 350 in the ENZED Touring Car Masters this weekend – and running the TCM Merchandise truck – Benson has organised for every TCM entrant on the grid this weekend to sport a rear windscreen banner that acknowledges the remarkable efforts of the CFS.

Benson will also have collection tins at the TCM Merchandise truck located in the massive Clipsal 500 Merchandise alley in a bid to raise valued funds for the volunteer-driven organisation. Though the Benson’s property was not directly affected by the fire parts of One Tree Hill were evacuated as the fire swung towards the township on Adelaide’s North Eastern fringes.

“We weren’t affected because the fire didn’t jump the road fortunately but I was ready to grab the car and go if it did†Benson explained.

“My wife (Rita) and I have plenty of friends in the area and we know people whose houses were saved by the efforts of the CFS. Everyone I have spoken to has raved about how brilliant they all were throughout the entire week or more.

“We experienced the whole thing first hand and I wanted to try and raise some money for the CFS as a way of acknowledging them and thanking them for what they’ve done.â€Â

The Benson’s were active in their support of their local community throughout the fires supplying food and drinks to CFS volunteers and police stationed in and around their township throughout the week-long ordeal.   

The Clipsal 500 Adelaide will be the first opportunity for the local motorsport community to support and publically thank the CFS and their hundreds of volunteers.  Through significant fundraising efforts were undertaken in the immediate aftermath of the Sampson Flat fire Benson says he is keen to continue the process while the devastation remains fresh in people’s minds.

“People are still talking about the fires and it’s still fresh in their minds†he said.

“In a few months people will stop talking about it – but the people in our area coming home to burnt properties and damaged homes will still have to deal with it. We’re keen to keep it in people’s minds and keep the awareness up for as long as possible to help support the great people who did so much work to save properties and lives.â€Â

The CFS officer in charge of fighting the Sampson Flat fire John Hutchins said he was thrilled to see the support continuing.

“A lot of the CFS people are rev heads so to see the CFS logo and a message of thanks on the back of the TCM vehicles at Clipsal will be thrilling†he said.

“We’ve had a massive support from the community from people dropping in food parcels and donating closes and furniture to those who have lost homes to farmers in our rural areas – who can’t afford to give away hay and things like that – but still have come in and supplied stock feed and feed for naitive animals in the fire zone to help out.

“The donations that we get go to the CFS foundation to purchase key supplies required for our units or directly to the recovery effort and every little bit helps.â€Â

Clipsal 500 fans will be able to show their support by donating at the collection tins located at the TCM Merchandise truck on the Australian Defence Force Oval adjacent to the Feature Race Paddock in the middle of the Clipsal 500 race precinct.

The TCM Grid will tackle three races across the weekend with a bumper field of more than 30 muscle and sports cars from 1960-1976 assembled for the first round of the new season. Amongst the grid includes motorsport legends Jim Richards John Bowe and Glenn Seton and classic cars like Ford Mustang’s Chevrolet Camaro’s Ford Falcons and Holden’s Torana and Monaro’s – amongst others.

For more information about the CFS head to