Mention motor racing and in particular the V8 Supercars to pretty much any Aussie bloke (or girl) and they will probably immediately think of Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit in Bathurst, NSW. Shortly after that they will probably ask the question Holden or Ford? From my experience you are either a supporter of one or the other and no fence sitting is allowed!
On our recent trip to Cowra the kids asked if we could go over to Bathurst for the day. They wanted to visit the National Motor Racing Museum which is right next door to the famous racetrack. Miss Oz was also excited by the prospect of being able to drive around the track as well.
Bathurst is located about three hours drive west of Sydney. It was first declared a settlement in 1815 after a way over the Blue Mountains was discovered in 1813 by explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth. It holds the title of Australia’s Oldest Inland Settlement and many of it’s historic buildings are still in use today.
During the 1930’s Mount Panorama was built by Bathurst City Council as a Scenic Drive with government unemployment funding. In April, 1938 the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix was the first race to be held there followed just two days later by the first race for motor cars. Racing stopped on the Mount during World War II and recommenced in 1946.
Numerous improvements have been made to the track over the years and it is now 6.213 kilometres long. It is classed as a public street when not being used for racing. Therefore all road rules applicable in NSW must be adhered to. Even when driving around the circuit at the posted speed limit of 60kph you can appreciate the difficulties of the track and the amazing skill levels of the drivers who race on it today have.
The first Bathurst 1000 race was held in 1963 and was then known as the Armstrong 500. As there were four different classes racing at the time there was no outright winner. These days Harry Firth and Bob Jane in a Ford Cortina GT are acknowledged as the winners of that event. No one was sure at the time if Bathurst would host the race the following year but it did and the rest as they say is history. The Bathurst 1000 has made household names out of racing greats like Peter Brock, Dick Johnston, Craig Lowndes, Allan Moffat and Colin Bond to name just a few.
Not forgetting a few motorcycle legends who raced at the track – Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner, Barry Sheehan – before motorcycle racing was discontinued there due largely to riots that erupted between spectators and Police in the early 80’s.
The National Motor Racing Museum celebrates all these motor racing legends and more with an impressive collection of race memorabilia. All the era’s of racing are covered here right from the very beginning of motor racing in Australia in the 1920’s through until now.
The museum is open every day and entry fees are reasonably priced – $33.00 for a family. It is well worth spending a few hours there especially if you are a fan of any form of motor racing.
Have you ever been to the great race? Would you like to go?