To visit Mt Panorama is always a special event. Whether it’s to watch a race or to cruise around ‘The Mountain’ for a taste of what it might be like to race on Australia’s most legendary racetrack (albeit at 60km/h) is something that anyone with even a millilitre of petrol in their veins must do more than once.
Bathurst is a holy place for rev-heads from all over who make the pilgrimage to worship the Gods of Horsepower and bask roar of race-bred V8s hammering down Conrod Straight.
So it’s all about the car and definitely not a place for those who think a car only exists to get you from A to B. If you think race cars are “noisy” or “too fast” then I will pray for your soul to eventually be fuel-injected with a love of V8s, but until your enlightenment dawns, go stare at your phone some more because, I’m sorry, when it comes to cars and Bathurst, you just won’t get it.
The lure of the place has been pulling racers and spectators in for almost 80 years with the track hosting racing on two, three and four wheels since the local council commissioned a dirt race track on the mountain to provide jobs for locals during The Great Depression. Now 200,000 people pass through the gates for The Great Race every October, but this weekend is particularly emotional as it’s the last time there will be a full grid of V8s for the Bathurst 1000. Don’t get me wrong, the noise of 18 Porsche Cup 911s race cars banging madly against their limiters is mind-blowing but the Bathurst legend was built on V8-powered dreams and it’s fitting that we’ve brought the Phase III and Monaro back to their place of glory to watch V8s race here for the very last time.
Having the Holden Monaro GTS 350 which Bill Tuckey and Sib Petralia punted around here in 1969 and the Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III raced by Garry Rush and Damon Beck in 1971 here at Bathurst is a great way of honouring those V8 pioneers whose racing feats are now legend and part of what makes racing at Mt Panorama such a spectacle. The punters seem to agree with massive interest in the old racing cars we have bought to honour, but that’s not surprising as the roar of the Touring Car Masters which sees race cars from the golden era of Group C (GTHO Falcons, Monaros, Toranas etc.) sending a shiver up the spine with every glorious lap of The Mountain they make. In fact, with the new formula for top-line racing in Australia going away from V8 engines next year, categories like TCM will continue to grow in stature and grid numbers as there are very few things in this world which sound as spectacular as an old-school V8 at full tilt.
While the winds of change are blowing across the Australian motorsport landscape, what probably won’t change is the fact that race cars look so tough and (mostly) sound amazing, so the axiom of “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” will continue to ring true into the future just as it has for decades previous. In fact, after watching the final V8 Falcons thundering around the mountain (and oh my gawd does the FG X look and sound mean in race trim) I duck into Clancy Ford on my way out of town just to see what lightly used XR8s are going for. Just need the wild DJR body kit and I’ll be set. And who knows, maybe in 40-years’ time, there’ll be a 2017 V8 Falcon back at Bathurst in a classic race car series.