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…
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?