1000km of sporting theatre
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.