How Geoff Searl uses his Corvette to give back to society

The Corvette is an iconic vehicle. Even the name is good. Sadly, it’s not sold in Australia. If you want one, you have to import it.

We wonder if this will change, with Holden set to end manufacturing in Oz later this year? There’s long been whispers that Chevrolet might start selling Corvettes Down Under. 

Novocastrian Geoff Searl is among a privileged group of Aussies to own a Corvette. He spent about $100,000 importing the vehicle from the US and rebuilding it into a replica of a famous Daytona race car.

The vehicle was based on the C5R Corvette that US racing legend Dale Earnhardt Sr drove in the Daytona 24-hour race. Earnhardt tragically died soon after in the Daytona 500.

As for Geoff, he’s a self-described motoring enthusiast. He is known around town for running a successful business, selling leather-care products through his Newcastle-based company Oakwood Products.

It all started when he developed a leather conditioner in the ‘80s and ‘90s for Scone’s polo fraternity to keep horse saddles in good nick.

“We made it so it’s not greasy and doesn’t come off on your clothes. Because the polo players wear white johnnies, I thought ‘if I can make these guys happy, we’ll make everyone happy’.

“In a nutshell, that’s what I did.”

Even Kerry Packer’s Ellerston crew was happy with it.

More products followed, which have since spread far and wide.

Even the British royals use them for their horse carriages and coaches at Buckingham Palace.

Anyhow, Geoff has taken a back seat in the business now, handing over the reins to his sons. Which means he has more time on his hands.

Being a community-minded sort of bloke, Geoff decided he’d do his bit for cancer research.

Having survived his own battle with prostate cancer, Geoff knows a thing or two about the disease.

This is where the Corvette comes in. Geoff has been using the iconic vehicle for fundraising.

“It’s an attraction in its own right,” he said.

“I thought we could use this car because it’s different. There’s not another one like it in Australia.”

The vehicle has been doing a good job. So has Geoff, just quietly. He’s raised a good chunk of money and he aims to raise more.

Next weekend (July 22 and 23) he and his Corvette will be fundraising at MotorEx at Olympic Park in Sydney.

He’s also talking to UrbanGrowth NSW about securing a prime spot during the Supercars event in Newcastle in November.

“I’m hoping to line up a spot next to Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, to have the car on display for the whole week,” he said.

His fundraising involves selling tickets to win a Harley Davidson and a holiday worth a combined $30,000.

He was keen to point out that all money raised goes to the cause. He covers expenses out of his own pocket.

If you see him around, why not buy a ticket?

Aussies Overseas

Topics wrote yesterday about Aussies meeting other Aussies overseas.

Kurri Kurri’s David Hamilton sent us this: “I saw today's article about encountering Aussies overseas and it reminded me of an encounter in 2015. I was at the Southern 500 NASCAR race with my wife in Darlington, South Carolina. We were walking through the souvenir tent and I saw two of my brother's mates from Kurri that were also at the race.”

Quite the coincidence that, Dave. Topics had a similar experience in Abu Dhabi. We were visiting a big elaborate mosque. The usher made us wear a long Muslim-style robe to enter the place of worship. In the dressing room, we ran into a bloke we knew through a soccer club.

Tell us your stories of Aussies overseas – topics@theherald.com.au.

Don’t be an Ironing Board

Speaking of Aussies overseas, Novocastrian Lily Ray is living in Sweden. She just started an admin job. 

This was pinned on the office corkboard: “Ironing boards are just surfboards that gave up on their dreams and got a boring job. Don't be an ironing board.”