AS a tribute to the "Year of the Outback" and in an effort to bring more attention to the plight of Australia's farmers, a family of four from Chinchilla in Central Queensland has been selected as the "Grand Marshals" for this week's Honda Indy ...
AS a tribute to the "Year of the Outback" and in an effort to bring more attention to the plight of Australia's farmers, a family of four from Chinchilla in Central Queensland has been selected as the "Grand Marshals" for this week's Honda Indy 300.
The news was announced today at the property of Ian and Pamela Mann and their two sons, Dusty (11) and Tyson (10) -- about 12kms south of Chinchilla.
Queensland Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Sport, Terry Mackenroth, and Honda Indy 300 Chairman, Mr John Cowley, presented the Manns with their event package which included four-day corporate passes, accommodation and travel vouchers and a list of activities which they will be involved in during their stay.
As Grand Marshals the Manns will be invited to several formal events, including the chance to take part in the pre-race parade lap. Ian will also be given the opportunity to wave the starter's flag for the race on Sunday, according to Mr Cowley.
Some others to have accepted the Grand Marshal role in the past have included rugby great John Eales, five-time 500cc world champion Mick Doohan, Olympic 1500m swimming gold medallist Grant Hackett and three-time F1 world champion Sir Jack Brabham.
"There is no doubt that people out West are doing it very tough and this is one small way of helping their cause," said Mr Mackenroth.
"Queensland and Australia relies so much on the land and the more attention we can draw to how serious the situation is in the rural areas the better."
Mr Cowley said the Manns would play an important role in the weekend's event, which is set to draw a four-day record crowd in excess of 300,000 people.
"There have been some famous names as our Grand Marshals in the past, but in many ways the Manns are our most important yet," said Mr Cowley.
"At the end of the day we just want the Manns to have a great time and have the chance to relax for the first time in a long while."
The Manns were identified in a recent newspaper article and offered what organisers are hoping will be the experience of a lifetime.
"When we got the call from the Indy office it was a great surprise," said Pamela.
"We have not had a holiday for years and we are looking forward to the experience.
"We have never been to the Indy race, but have obviously seen so much about it."
The Manns are on a 378ha property, but have been unable to harvest a crop for three years and have been relying on the sale of a dwindling cattle herd to survive.
The property was recently on the market, but Ian "fell in love with the place" all over again when showing a prospective buyer around and decided he would try and stick it out.
Ian has taken on many outside jobs including mustering, fencing, harvesting and local truck driving to help generate an income.
Rain in the past few years has been enough to plant crops, but there has never been enough further rain for the crop to grow.
The Mann family will drive from Chinchilla to the Gold Coast on Wednesday in a car provided by Honda Australia.
Caltex has provided a Star Card for the trip, which will take care of their fuel and refreshments along the way.