King of the Mountain - 2015 Bathurst 1000
October is the time of year for some great sporting events.
There are grand finals in the NRL and the AFL, but for those who prefer motorised competition there is also the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on Sunday October 11th.
As 2016 will see the end of Australian automotive manufacturing, it will be interesting to see how the religious fundamentalism that exists amongst the supporters of Ford and Holden plays out over the next few years.
But I think the Bathurst race has enough momentum to go on long after the demise of locally produced cars.
As this year’s race approached, I thought I’d take the 200 kilometre pilgrimage from Sydney to the Bathurst motoring Mecca.
The biblical analogies are everywhere with visitors approaching Bathurst on The Great Western Highway from the east directed to the Mount as you approach the town – Mount Panorama that is.
A left turn at William Street takes you straight past the Charles Sturt University on to Murray’s Corner and Pit Straight.
At that point, you are actually on the real Bathurst race track.
My instructions were to only tackle the track in an anti-clockwise direction.
That was good advice because even though it is a two-way suburban road no one seems to go the other way around.
Even the large number of pedestrians out for a stroll on a Sunday afternoon all seemed to be only going one way.
Besides, I’d studiously watched every race from beginning to end for decades and I must have watched thousands of laps by now, all anti-clockwise.
Recently re-surfaced, the bitumen is in beautiful condition and I didn’t see a lot of burnt rubber on the road unlike many secluded streets near my house where hoons practise their burn-outs.
Sixty km/h is absolutely the speed limit for the next 6.2 kilometres as the track wanders past houses, sporting clubs, and even a vineyard.
For years, my only view of the track has been straight ahead at anything up to 300 km/h, so it was a real change to see normal suburban houses on either side.
And whilst I was tackling the track in a Korean hire car, there was no shortage of Mustangs, Commodores, and V8 utes in hot pursuit.
I couldn’t help smiling as I headed up Mountain Straight behind an old Escort panel van as I watched the driver ahead of me swerve from side to side as he warmed up his tyres on the track.
Driver etiquette obliges you not to ever overtake anyone on your Sunday circuit lest the pedal goes to the metal and an impromptu race begins.
As of 2014, the V8 Supercar Bathurst lap record is set at 2.07.4812 achieved by Paul Dumbrell in a VE Commodore, eight seconds faster than the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle.
A Formula One vehicle did circuit the track in 1.48.88 in 2011, but no “car” of any description has ever come around the track in under two minutes.
To do so would see an average speed of 186 km/h on the straights and around the 23 bends.
My lap time was a shade under 15 minutes with plenty of time to stop and take a few photos.
Real estate fronting the track seemed quite affordable with a house on an acre worth about $600,000.
Mount Panorama, Bathurst it seemed like a nice neighbourhood.
Maybe I might even move there!
Doctor Clive Fraser
Published: 21 Sep 2015