Dave Myers, left, and Dave Clark, right, at the official launch of the Canada 5000 Rally Against Alzheimer’s in Edmonton.

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. More details on why we chose Alzheimer’s can be found here.

I hope you’ll join us for the ride!

– Dave S. Clark

Diana Carter and Gillian Field got a bit stuck in their Volvo 122S in the 1964 Shell 4000, but made it out and finished 24th overall, 11th in their class. The Canada 5000 car is the same colour, is also a four door and will definitely be drawing some inspiration from this car! Photo courtesy of Shell-4000-Rally.org