1000km of sport­ing the­atre

Herald on Sunday - - VEITCHY ONSPORT - Bathurst fans are among the thirsti­est in sport.

When talk­ing about sport’s ul­ti­mate bucket list, a few events al­ways pop up: a Su­per Bowl, the US Masters golf, the Olympic 100m fi­nal. . .

But there’s another that can claim to match them all. Not for global ex­po­sure, or for any mas­sive prize cheque.

In fact, out­side of Aus­trala­sia, the sleepy town of Bathurst is just another in­signif­i­cant dot on the map.

That all changes in the first week of Oc­to­ber.

Sud­denly the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion dou­bles (or so it seems) and Mt Panorama roars into life with fans — com­monly known as ‘bo­gans’ — ar­riv­ing en masse.

They are kit­ted out for a three­day ben­der, their beer stocks buried on the Mount long be­fore the big event and ac­cessed only by the mod­ern won­ders of a GPS lo­ca­tor, their trans­port of choice state of the art mo­bile fridges/ en­ter­tain­ment carts.

These thirsty fans are given drink­ing guide­lines to help keep them alive, with 24 cans the rec­om­mended daily limit.

Back in the day, the Blue army (Ford) and Red army (Holden) were not to be messed with, a def­i­nite no-go zone for the po­lice, as Bathurst’s ‘sol­diers’ would cre­ate a fire pit on the Mount for cars they con­sid­ered the en­emy.

Many a petrol­head will re­cite sto­ries of a Great Race where com­mon law and, to some ex­tent, de­cency sim­ply did not ap­ply.

This is a sport­ing event un­like any other and Bathurst is where my love of sport re­ally be­gan.

As a jour­nal­ism stu­dent at the lo­cal univer­sity, my room over­looked the fa­mous cir­cuit and one of our an­nual chal­lenges was to run the mighty Mount (trust me, tele­vi­sion does not do jus­tice as to how steep that bug­ger re­ally is).

My first ever tele­vi­sion in­ter­view was with the great Peter Brock, the nine-time King of the Moun­tain.

What a gentle­man he was, in front of this trem­bling kid in an ill-fit­ting cheap suit.

It was on those fa­mous slopes where I first met a young, blood­y­minded Kiwi named Greg Mur­phy in 1996.

He par­tied just as hard as he pushed that Holden when he com­pleted the ‘Lap of the Gods’ in 2003 to sen­sa­tion­ally se­cure pole.

I’m not even a mas­sive mo­tor­sport fan. Not even close. But in this world, where we have op­tions galore when it comes to our feast of sport, Bathurst of­fers some­thing dif­fer­ent — 1000 kilo­me­tres of un­ri­valled sport­ing the­atre.

The last Four Bathurst 1000s have been de­cided by a com­bined mar­gin of 1.25 sec­onds.

Trust me when I say if you haven’t done Bathurst, you haven’t done sport.

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