3/11/2014 On Monday, we left Dubbo for Bathurst.
For many years, I was one of those rev heads who stayed glued to the TV watching “The Great Race” on that Sunday in October – not so much since the V8 Supercars came on the scene, but certainly each year preceding that when the race cars were less reliable and less tamed and much more interesting. The drivers back then were also more charismatic and slightly larger than life. I just had to make the pilgrimage to the Mountain.
We unhitched the van at the Bathurst showgrounds and drove on to the Mount Panorama Racing Circuit located on the southern outskirts of town. When not used for motor sport, the race circuit is a public road for its entire length. It was like being on hallowed ground for me, and Di also admitted to being excited to be there. We did a couple of laps of the circuit, anti-clockwise of course as per the race direction. As a public road, the circuit is strictly 60kph speed limited, and there was a noticeable Police presence and speed cameras to enforce this. However, 60kph was fast enough given that we were in a fully loaded and heavy Land Rover Discovery and the road was incredibly steep and twisty. The race footage does not do justice to what this track is really like – how steep the climb up Mountain Straight is from Hells Corner and up through the Cutting, how high Skyline is once you’re at the top of the mountain, how twisty the Esses and the Dipper are, and how tempting the descent down Conrod Straight would be in a more appropriate car. My right foot was definitely wanting to go down.
After only a couple of 60kph laps, I have a much greater appreciation for the skills of the drivers who race this circuit, particularly those in the early Production and Modified Production cars. Try as I might, there were some corners where I just could not maintain 60kph and had to brake to get through them. How those drivers do it at race speeds is amazing.
Afterwards, we visited the National Motor Racing Museum, appropriately located next to Murray’s Corner at the end of Conrod Straight. For me, this was like the Vatican of motor sports.
This day truly gets a big tick on my Bucket List.