Back in the day

Mount Panorama is ex­cit­ing enough in the dry – for drivers and spectators alike. But it’s a whole new experience when it rains…

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

The unique experience – for drivers, crews and spectators – of rain at Mount Panorama.

While the wet open­ing few hours of last year’s Bathurst 1000 were re­mark­ably al­most com­pletely mishap-free, nor­mally when the heav­ens open Mount Panorama trans­forms into Mount Pan­de­mo­nium. Some­times it’s a sim­ple case of just sur­viv­ing the con­di­tions. The ’92 race had to be red agged af­ter a storm ren­dered the cir­cuit un­nav­i­ga­ble safely in any­thing other than a boat; in ’87 pro­ceed­ings were al­most halted when a down­pour sent cars pirou­et­ting into one an­other and into the wall at Reid Park – prompt­ing the race’s rst ever Safety Car pe­riod.

Rain would make for a tough as­sign­ment in the old days of the ‘once-a-year-war­rior’ co­drivers. They’d ar­rive at Bathurst maybe feel­ing a bit out of prac­tice as well as be­ing not to­tally fa­mil­iar with what is some­one’s else’s car, and then they’d have to do it on a wet track...

Some years, such as 1981, ’83 and ’86, were dry on race day but wet dur­ing prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing. The wet top 10 shootout in ’81 gave us one of the Great Race’s un­for­get­table mo­ments in that ma­jes­tic pole-win­ning lap from Kevin Bartlett in the Chan­nel Nine Ca­maro.

Some years it rained the en­tire week­end. Spare a thought for the crews work­ing in an un­sealed pit area; as the above-left pic from ’74 shows, it was a strug­gle for Jim Hunter’s crew just to drag their L34 To­rana through the mud to get it to pit­lane.

While the drivers only have to cope with a wall of spray and a fogged wind­screen at 250km/h, for the spectators it’s um­brella city at a venue where there’s al­most no cov­ered grand­stand view­ing. But then who would want to be any­where else over that Oc­to­ber week­end?





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