Indy 500, Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans… and now Bathurst

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarMonday, October 20th, 2008

 
 

A week or so ago we directed your attention to Australia’s Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercar event – and specifically to a sponsor who reportedly believed that his cash entitled him to headbutt a driver he felt had underperformed.

Since then, Bathurst has been in the news again – this time due to a fan who thought it would be fun to attempt a jump designed for a motocross bike in a Nissan utility vehicle and who spectacularly rolled it for his pains.

He has since found himself featured in the Australian press and has gone on to deny most of the story – but footage of the incident is attracting a sizeable following on YouTube and has started to have something of the feel of a viral stunt about it.

We found ourselves getting very curious to learn more about the actual race. And lo, today’s the Independent has a feature on the southern hemisphere’s leading motorsport event, whose fans’ Ford/Holden loyalties makes F1’s McLaren/Ferrari spat look like child’s play.

It seemed ripe for sharing. Read on here:

The dirtiest show on Earth: Bathurst – Australia’s biggest motorsport event

The Bathurst 1000, the biggest motorsport event in the southern hemisphere, has an almost mythical status. Not only is it Australia’s oldest race, but it is petrolhead heaven, with entry limited to V8-powered cars based on Falcons and Commodores. Moreover, for most of the year the fabled 6.2km track is a public road, looping across the mountain, which means that anyone can experience the excitement of driving it — albeit at a sedate 60kph (37mph), a speed limit assiduously enforced by police. (The school bus also travels along the road, which was built in the 1930s as a scenic tourist drive; during race week, the speed signs are taken down.)

The Great Race, as it’s known, has been held at Bathurst since 1963. The Mount Panorama track is one of the world’s most challenging; only Laguna Seca in California and the old Nürburgring in Germany offer similar changes in elevation. The long downhill straight is the steepest section of track anywhere; here, the V8s hit speeds approaching 300kph (190mph). Other hazards include kangaroos; in 2004, a driver was fortunate to escape unscathed after hitting a roo.

The Great Race, a classic endurance event that used to last eight hours (drivers would take a packed lunch), has been won by cars as diverse as a Mini, Jaguar and Volvo. But Fords and Holdens always dominated, and now no other marques compete; the sponsors and broadcasters prefer it that way, and so do most of the fans. When a Nissan Skyline triumphed in 1992, its drivers, Jim Richards and Mark Skaife, were booed off the podium. Richards, known as “Gentleman Jim” for his usually courtly manner, called the crowd “a pack of arseholes”. Read full story here…

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