I love motorsport, I love the sound of the cars, I love the speed, and the pressure of racing which can go all wrong so quickly with a simple error – in the pits, or on the track – makes it all the more exciting.
I used to love going to Amaroo Raceway, Oran Park – watching Touring Cars from the hill.
In the 20 years since those simple days a lot has changed. Go to the Sydney 500 V8 Race and the Pit Complex is fantastic, walk through and see it all – under one roof. But out on the track, good luck getting a view – good luck taking a photo. Small spectator areas behind huge fences make it more of an off-track event than a race to watch.
Then there’s the Bathurst 1000. What an amazing race. In 1991 and 1992 when I went there with a mate, we got to Pit Straight at 6am to ensure we got a spot on the hill for the start of the race.
Today i drove up to Mt Panorama to see practice for Sunday’s Bathurst 12 hour. I got a bit of a chill – a genuine motorsport event that gave great access for all fans.
Yep, I got some even better access – a Media Pass to get me through the gate, and access to the Ferrari corporate hospitality, but during the day, I took my 4 year old son out across the track along Pit Straight.
We sat on the hill at Murray’s corner, watched the cars go by. Listened to the trackside radio, were able to get food and drinks from the Harris Park stalls quickly and easily.
You see, the Bathurst 12 hour is no-where near as popular as the 1000. The crowds aren’t as big, not even close. That makes it sensational.
Yet, running around the track in Practice today, Qualifying tomorrow and for 12 hours on Sunday are some of the best drivers in the world, the best cars in the world on one of the greatest race tracks in the world.
There are regular buses taking people up the top of the mountain, a place where it’s almost impossible to get close to the fence for a week in October, yet in February it’s a great place to sit, enjoy a picnic or just enjoy the fast cars flying by.
There’s plenty of on-track action – but what’s interesting is what’s to come.
V8 Supercars now has a slice of the action in owning the event, and some of the biggest car brands on the planet are deeply committed. Mercedes had a display of some of their best cars, there were several McLaren supercars there to see, and over 20 Ferrari Owners took a trip to the mountain to put their cars on show – and enjoy some laps of the track between sessions.
Fast forward a few years and that off-track action is going to be much much bigger. Ferrari’s local CEO Herbert Appleroth wants more Ferrari owners at the track, personally he’d like to see a “Goodwood style” festival of the best the motoring and motorsport has to offer.
Sydney has plans for a festival of sorts, but Bathurst is surely the ultimate destination for rev-heads. Take your family, make a day of it, make a weekend of it.
It will get busy. The accommodation prices will go up, so perhaps get up to the mountain sooner rather than later – because the Bathurst 12 hour is a great event, a great destination and a gathering of some spectacular vehicles. Check it out.