THE legend of the Hattah Desert Race continues to grow − but it all began with humble beginnings.

Long-time volunteer and competitor Ken Reed said the race was initially “very low-key”, starting with a trial in 1997 put on by members of the North West Motorcycle Club.

“How it came about was it was a fundraiser for the club,” he said.

“Like a lot of clubs we thought ‘how are we going to make some money?’ and one of the guys said ‘why don’t we put on an event?’

“Twenty-something years later, it’s a monster.”

Not only a monster but, as Reed said, “up there with the biggest and best in the world”.

A pool of 700-plus entrants will take part next weekend, including the junior category for ages 7 to 16.

Reed, set for his 24th attempt at the race with 21 finishes to his name already, said this year’s tagline of “where legends are made” meant many different things.

“You’ve got your core group of members that started it off and started that tradition − and we’ve carried it on − so to me they’re legends,” he said.

“But then the volunteers that we get, we started off with probably a dozen volunteers and now it’s well in excess of 150 … to me they’re legends − and then there’s the competitors.”

The event went ahead last year but COVID border closures meant about a third of the competitor base weren’t able to arrive.

Reed said it was still well supported by spectators and those that were able to compete.

This year, all is set for a big gathering.

“We have a capacity field this year and sadly there were some that missed out, but we weren’t able to accommodate everybody,” he said.

“We would like to − and who knows where it is in five years’ time, it may well have a grid of 500, we don’t know.”

The action gets under way next Friday with scrutineering and sign-on at Red Cliffs, followed by Saturday’s prologue and the junior race, and then Sunday’s main race.