As a spectator, nothing can quite prepare you for an experience like Bathurst. Legendary around the world for its breathtaking beauty, punishing climate, and hyper enthusiastic crowd, there truly is no comparison in endurance racing. Yes Le Mans is grueling, yes Daytona is lightning quick, yes Spa is punishing on cars, but no single track combines all of these elements and more to deliver the spectacle of Bathurst.
3 hours outside of Sydney by car, the tiny town of Bathurst New South Wales was incorporated during the Australian gold rush in the 1850s. The first race ever held at Mount Panorama Circuit was the 1938 Australian Grand Prix, which set the foundation for a long and storied history of racing, leading up to the birth of the Bathurst 1000km race, which has been held in the same format every year since 1973. Beginning in 2011 the Bathurst 12 Hour, the GT3 derivative of the Australian Touring Car 1000km became FIA certified, and became part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge in 2016.
It’s this legendary history in the world of motorsport that has drawn devotees and drivers alike down under to put themselves to the test at one of the most challenging tracks in the world. Described frequently by drivers as a mix of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca, and once dubbed by German Driver Maro Engel as the “Blue Hell”. Going up the mountain makes Eau Rouge look like a gentle ramp. Passing areas rival that of the tightest Street courses, creating nail biting moments throughout any race, in what Black Swan Racing
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“Aussie race fans have quite a reputation at Bathurst,” explained Matt Campbell, “they certainly rank among the most, shall we say, passionate in the world.” Which you’d have to be we suppose, to stand on top of a mountain hours before sunrise to witness the pitch black start. Romain Dumas agreed: “It is my first time racing here, but if their reputation precedes them I expect them to be incredibly cool.”
At the end of the day
Text: Ted Gushue (Petrolicious)