Bathurst 1000 Motor Race at Mount Panorama: The Great Race
The Beginning - Bathurst 1000
The Bathurst 1000 V8 motor race had very humble beginnings in Victoria and developed over the years to become a world class race unique in the way it is run and the track it uses called Mount Panorama.
The race started it's life on the Phillip Island track which incidentally is now used to run the Australian MotoGP for Motor Bikes but after the track started to break up the race was tried at various other venues like Sandown Racetrack which is a combined Horse Racing track and Car racing track. Eventually it has found it's spiritual home at Bathurst's Mount Panorama.
Initially the Bathurst 1000 which by the way is now due to sponsorship deals is called the 'SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000' was a handicap race but now is run as part of the 'V8 SuperCar' series.
The winning GMH Torana XU -1
King of the Mountain
In the early years of this race it was run on handicap basis and just about any car could run in it's own class . The race also went through many name changes due to sponsorship changes and certain products not being allowed to be advertised in Australia.
It was only after 1963 when the race was moved to Mount Panorama that the bigger Muscle Cars started to put the stamp on the event and it became commonly known as 'The Great Race'.
Peter Brock also nicknamed 'Peter Perfect' and 'King of the Mountain' holds the record for the amount of wins of the Bathurst 1000 with a total of 9.
Unfortunately Peter was killed in a Rally accident and in honor of him the winners of the Bathurst 1000 each year are now presented with the 'Peter Brock Trophy' with the simple inscription 'King of the Mountain'
Peter Brock mostly drove the GMH manufactured Torana XU-1 in his victories and bore the Number of '05' and became his trademark over the years as he advocated responsible driving and appealed to drivers to stay under the .05 blood alcohol level.
Pre-Race day at Mount Panorama
The build up to the Big Race!
The Mount Panorama Track is by day a normal country road where the public can and do drive around every day , it has a speed limit of 60km/hour and because of it's reputation is regularly patrolled by Police.
Driving around Mount Panorama, even in a family sedan, is quite an experience. To a petrol head it is said to be almost 'spiritual'. Trust me it is not far off the mark.
A few weeks before the big race on the Second Sunday of October every year the whole atmosphere around Bathurst changes. The roads around start to build up with traffic, the big pan-techs arrive with their cargo of precious 500hp + V8 Supercars and start to set up in the pits.
The fans start rolling up in their Holdens and Fords. The Police presence increases. Oh yes Race Day is coming up quickly ....
Over the Top
Mount Panorama Race Circuit
The Mount Panorama race circuit which has been fine tuned for the V8 SuperCars is very unique, so much so that it has been described as a 'one off'
Specifications of the Circuit
The circuit which is also by day a public road was first used as a car racing track way back in 1938.
The total length is 6.213 km.
Mount Panorama is 862 metres above Sea Level which in itself can cause breathing problems for these finely tuned V8 SuperCars.
The Lowest point at the Pits/Starting/Finish Line up to the Top of Mount Panorama is 174 metres and the steepest grade is 1:6.13
Plan of Mount Panorama Race Circuit
View of the top of Mount Panorama
Three into one will just not fit ?
First Lap casualty.
Fabian Coulthard crashes on the first lap 2010 slow-mo at end!
The First lap of a Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama
It's a Hoot !!!
The first lap of this 'Great Race' would be the most exciting experience of your life, forget about your 'Sky Diving ' or that wimpy sport called 'Bungee Jumping' :-)
So let me see if I can put into words what it would feel like to travel the 6 km+ race circuit on the opening lap of the Bathurst 1000.
Hang onto your seat belts. You are in for a white knuckle ride of your life!
"Drivers start your Engines"
is the call and the big V8s engines roar into life with that throaty growl that only V8s can, it starts at you ears and your whole body starts to vibrate and throb.
The roar of the 30+ V8 SuperCars is deafening as they accelerate away from the Start Line all trying to get to the first corner... well, err... first.
This first Corner, for very good reasons, is called Hell Corner.
This is where the charge is made from the start to try to establish a leading position for clear air throughout the race.
Next there is one flat out charge at about 255 k/hour up the gentle Mountain straight (1.111km) where the V8 Supercars start their climb up the mountain.
Through they go sometimes in single file sometimes side by side. The first time that the fleet of Supercars flash across the top of the Mountain, snaking their way through the Esses like a big colorful Snake, past the multitude of over 100,000 supporters, there is a tremendous roar that still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. (These days I am just as happy to watch the Big Race on TV)
Car meets Wall , Something has to give !
This corner is not called The Dipper for no reason, for the squeamish this is 'go for the brown bag' time.
The road appears to all of a sudden disappear and drops away from you, (as well as your stomach) in the blink of an eye and you are "flying".
The driver cannot see the descending road but at about 150 km/h you cannot back off! and you navigate through Skyline and the Dipper.
This experience has been described as one of the best and most exciting corners in Australian Motorsport, if not the world!
All the while there is just a sea of Blue and Red and White flags and the roar of 30 odd V8 SuperCars is something to experience at least once in your life!
The excitement of the first lap is far from over!
From the top of the Mountain the vehicles have to now travel down-hill (now a drop of some 174 metres)
The drivers have to negotiate Conrod Straight and the V8 SuperCar drivers, trying to execute passing moves, traveling at speeds of up to 300 km/ hour, door handle to door handle, at times separated by the thickness of a piece of paper, sometimes just kissing the car next to them. The drivers realize just how dangerous a 'shunt' would be at this speed but accidents do happen!
Ford First and Second
He Who Blinks First Runs Second
The drivers test each others nerves to see who will 'blink' first.
Many drivers have come unstuck here pushing their luck and their SuperCar brakes just that much too far!
The last turn on the lap is 'Murray's Corner', named after a driver who had a spectacular accident on exit and demolished his car. Many cars have come to grief on this corner possibly from the exhaling of the breath that they did not realize they had been holding for the last 2 minutes.
Past the Winning Post for the first time to complete Lap One and up to Hell Corner again and if they are fortunate enough to keep their car on the track, repeat this great piece of driving another 160 times.
(Conrod Straight was indeed a straight piece of road until the unfortunate death of a driver when his vehicle took flight, to reduce the speed and prevent a repeat accident the organizers decided to install a 'chicane' and called it 'The Chase')
Jenson Button does a flying lap around Mount Panorama
Peter Brock Trophy
The winners of the Bathurst 1000 are awarded the Peter Brock Trophy.
Peter Brock also known lovingly as 'Peter Perfect' won the Bathurst 1000 a record 9 times.