Book review: “Dunko” – Ross Dunkerton’s life story
- 23rd March 2012, 1:49pm
And if you haven’t guessed by now who we’re talking about, then you haven’t been following the career of one of Australia’s all-time best rally drivers. We’re talking about Ross Dunkerton, undisputedly a legend in his own time, and about whom a brand new book has just been released.
Thanks to the journalistic skills of Bob Watson (and, we presume, the input of Lisa Dunkerton, Ross’s wife), this new 230 page book entitled “Dunko – the inside story of Ross Dunkerton, an Australian rally legend”, is a welcome addition to the slowly growing list of biographies on famous Australian rallying competitors. This new “warts and all” story is a rollicking tale of a self-confessed larrikin who has managed to achieve more in the way of excitement and pleasure from rallying than most of us would in two lifetimes.
The book tells of Ross’s early life (the son of an optometrist) as a dealer in Datsuns and Volkswagens in a small country town, Narrogin, south east of Perth in Western Australia, and his new-found skills as a rally driver of some note, despite his older brother, Jeff, taking most of the victories in events when they competed against each other.
But Ross Dunkerton’s “give it all or nothing attitude” was to eventually see him signed by both the Nissan rally team under Howard Marsden, and the Ralliart team managed by Doug Stewart. Life was never all that rosy during his time with those teams, however his record of wins and placings will probably never be challenged – four WA Rally Championships, five Australian Rally Championships, a Southern Cross Rally win, four Malaysian Rally Championships, two Asia-Pacific titles, a Wynns Safari win, two outright wins in Targa West, plus countless other victories and podiums.
You get the feeling throughout the book that Dunkerton is a rough and tumble character who likes nothing more than a good after-event party, subjecting someone to a joke or a set-up, and conning somebody else into paying for the drinks. But Ross Winston Dunkerton (the “Winston” a tribute to British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who his father revered) is also an astute businessman, thrifty (some would say mean) with the ability to turn every opportunity into a financial and physical challenge, most of which came to a successful conclusion.
We have no doubt that his second wife, Lisa, was the guiding hand behind much of his career and, dare we say it, kept him on the straight and narrow.
Watson’s book is full of interesting stories and anecdotes, such as the time the crankshaft in Ross’ and Harry Mansson’s Falcon broke in India in the 1993 London to Sydney Marathon, and which eventually resulted in years of legal wrangling. And the initially exciting years with the Ralliart team that ended in acrimony despite his record of wins, and Dunkerton’s selection as a shire councilor so that he could have the law changed to evict a perennial stalker from his property.
Liberally laced with comments and stories from many of his adversaries and fellow competitors, “Dunko” is a book that will appeal to all, and one which this reviewer found hard to put down and which we think you’ll enjoy too. May there be many more similar books.
- Jeff Whitten
CLICK HERE to order your copy of "DUNKO"
Photo by Dallas Dogger
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