Bruce Howie takes on an 8000km road trip for Drag Challenge Weekend 2022

Drag Challenge regular Bruce Howie opted to take the long way home after Drag Challenge Weekend, giving us serious road trip envy!

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Shaun Tanner

It’s no secret that people travel from all over the country to take part in our various Drag Challenge marathons, but the 8000-odd kilometres Bruce Howie covered in less than three weeks for our recent Drag Challenge Weekend was next level.

The adventure started when Bruce had to pick up his XL ute from storage in Kyabram, Victoria, before the start of DCW. Bruce now lives in Alice Springs, and decided to use DCW as the perfect excuse to bring the car up to his new home after the event.

“When I moved up here [Alice Springs], I didn’t have anywhere to store the car, so originally I left it behind,” Bruce said. “But now I have friends [up here] who’ve changed that, and I’ve also become close with the club that runs the drag strip here, so after Drag Challenge I decided to road-trip the ute home.”

To get to the XL, Bruce hopped in his panel van in Alice and made his way down to Kyabram, via a stop-off in South Australia to grab a new bonnet for the ute. “I gave the bonnet to Shane and Carly Dale to get the cowl conversion done and have it painted, and Shane called me just before the event and said it was ready,” he said.

“So I thought, ‘you beauty,’ and grabbed it on the way down!”

Bruce then successfully completed the three days of DCW 2022, which included another 1000km of road driving between Heathcote and Mildura. “It was another awesome event; it’s a real credit to all the guys and girls who put it on and come along to really make it what it is,” he said.

Bruce took home the Quickest Stick-Shift award, rowing the gears through the XL’s Jerico four-speed to run a pair of 10s, thanks to a stock-bottom-end 302 sucking a 150-shot of giggle gas.

While most would have loaded their race cars onto trailers after a hard-fought weekend of drag-and-drive action to head home, for Bruce the longest leg of his mammoth road trip was still to come.

“I obviously left the panel van in Kyabram so I could drive the ute home to Alice, and I decided to go up via NSW and Queensland to catch up with some people and really make the most of the trip,” he said.

The near-6000km road trip from Heathcote to Alice saw him stopping off at countless local towns and catching up with new and old friends. “A big part of the road trip was meeting up with all the people I’d made contact with online via The Thongslappers podcast, and I also wanted to take the ute back to my old high school in Queensland.”

That’s because Bruce originally bought the ute out of the high school groundskeeper’s shed, and wanted to recreate a photographic reunion he’d been dreaming of for all these years. “The shed it used to sit in was still there at the school, so I managed to sneak it down there for a photo, which is exactly what I wanted,” he said.

He also stopped by one of the hugely popular classic car meets at Joe’s Diner in Eagle Farm in Brisbane, before heading down through NSW and then across outback roads to take him to the finish line back at Alice.

“The scenery was epic, and meeting all the people along the way is what makes it really special,” he said. “The other part of this was to show people you don’t need a big fancy diesel thing and a massive caravan to see this part of Australia. I just swagged it for most of the trip, which shows you can just get out there in whatever you have without having all the fancy kit. Just get out there and do it!”