Welcome to Canada 5000, a massive project centered around a 5000-mile drive across Canada in a vintage Volvo 122S.
The Canada 5000 is part history project – recounting the famous Shell 4000 Rally races that ran across Canada in the 1960s. It’s part road trip – following various routes of the original Shell 4000 Rally, but stretching it out to 5000 miles across eight Canadian provinces. It’s part car rebuild – we’ll be driving a 1967 Volvo 122S, so we’ll be taking a non-running 48-year-old Swedish sedan and bringing it back to life so that it can make this journey. It’s part writing project – I’ll be documenting the whole experience and interviewing the drivers and co-drivers who ran the original race. It’s part fundraiser – my partner in this project Dave Myers and I will be raising awareness and money to fight Alzheimer’s Disease.
I got the idea when I was reading the history of the Shell 4000 Rally. For nine years, Canada’s rural and backcountry roads played host to one of the longest and most challenging rallies of the 1960s. Professional drivers and manufacturer-sponsored teams navigated 4000 miles across Canada every spring from 1961 to 1968 and again in 1971.
It’s a rally that caught my attention as a writer and car enthusiast. For the Canada 5000, I will experience what the rally drivers of the 1960s experienced, by following the routes of several of the original races from coast to coast – Vancouver to Halifax. To be historically accurate, I’ll be running the race in my newly acquired Volvo 122S, the same model of car that won the rally twice and was always a top runner.
This is not your average Trans-Canada road trip. If you went from our designated starting point in Vancouver to the ending point in Halifax, sticking to the Trans-Canada Highway, you would be driving for 68 hours, covering roughly 3,700 miles (6000 KM) and make approximately 33 turns. Following the various Shell 4000 routes, we’ll be driving for 144 hours, travelling roughly 5000 miles (8000 KM) and making nearly 700 turns… and that is if we don’t get lost!
On top of running the original route, I’ll be interviewing drivers, co-drivers and organizers to gather stories and anecdotes from the historic races. And of course, I’ll be writing about all of my experiences and interviews along the way.
My co-driver Dave Myers and I will also be teaming up with a provincial Alzheimer’s Societies across Canada so that a great cause will benefit from this adventure as well.
I hope you’ll join us for the ride!
- Dave S. Clark
The Car – 1967 Volvo Amazon
To properly pay tribute to the Shell 4000 rallies of the 1960s, a lot of thought was put into what car would be the best for the adventure. It quickly became clear that it needed to be a Volvo 122S.
The car has incredible pedigree in the original races. A total of 43 entered the nine races and only 13 failed to finish, which is a pretty solid record considering how many cars had to drop out. The Volvo 122 won the overall race twice, in 1964 and 1965. It also lays claim to three class wins, a second overall finish, a third overall finish and two fourth overall finishes.
Since the Canada 5000 is a drive across Canada, the car also needed to have a strong connection to our country. The 122 was the first car Volvo made outside of Sweden and was assembled in the company’s first Halifax factory. The very first one to roll off the assembly line is still on display in the Museum of Industry in Nova Scotia.
Our 122S was purchased in October 2014 from Lethbridge, Alberta. It is currently getting a complete refresh so that it will be ready to take on this long and intense trip. The car will prepared in period correct style without the navigational aids of modern technology.
From 1961 to 1971, some of the bravest drivers from across the world took on the task of driving 4000 miles, not quite the entire length of the country, in the Shell 4000 Rally. The FIA-sanctioned rally was the longest and one of the most challenging rallies of the 1960s.
The rally had different routes every year. It ran from Montreal to Vancouver and vice versa, Vancouver to Quebec City, Ottawa to Victoria and Calgary to Halifax. For the 2015 Canada 5000, my co-driver Dave Myers and I will travel from coast to coast – starting in Vancouver and making the roughly 5000-mile (8000-kilometre) drive to Halifax.
The original rally ran along some of the most challenging and scenic routes across Canada and we’ll follow them turn-by-turn. We’ll stick strictly to the routes that were set 50-plus years ago. For the most part, these routes don’t follow the highways you would expect. They take logging roads, gravel side roads and even some non-maintained trails. And we’ll tackle them all in a 48-year-old Volvo 122S.
Rally Against Alzheimer’s
Aside from the experience this rally provides us as automotive enthusiasts, it is also about raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and money to fight it. We are raising funds through donations and sponsorships, with all of the proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta. Money raised outside Alberta will be donated to the respective provincial Alzheimer’s Society chapter.
“I believe Alzheimer’s and dementia represent a silent epidemic that will become a health and social crisis in the near future if it isn’t already.
Generally, Canadian’s are not familiar with the early signs of Alzheimer’s which delays treatment and, as a society, we are ill-equipped to properly care for our loved ones and deal wth the ripple effect of the disease.”
Canada 5000 co-driver
Meet Marilyn Myers, David’s Mom.
Marilyn was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in her early 60s. It progressed quickly. Today, at 74, she is no longer the strong, amazing woman she once was and should have continued to be.
Marilyn, and women like her, are our motivation to help Canadians and our various governments understand Alzheimer’s better, particularly as it affects women, and to prepare for the challenges of dealing with this disease in the coming years.
Did you know that women represent 72% of Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease? That’s because women live longer than men and age is the biggest risk factor. Are you one of the 72%? Do you know someone who is?
Did you know that Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed earlier now and there are medications that may help slow down the disease? The best way to detect the onset of Alzheimer’s is to know the 10 warning signs!