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Beyond the Fence Line: remembering the greatest race of all

11 September 2015


The mainstream media love getting caught up in the Bathurst 1000 — but it’s a fact that I hesitate to celebrate. Wherever you have the combination of bogans and beer-fuelled debauchery, cameras and reporters are never too far away.

My relationship with the mountain started at the age of six, glued to the family television set while watching the 1997 Bathurst 1000 — not a beer in sight. I’m not really sure what set it off. Dad did his best to hypnotize me into sharing his sporting interests, as they recommend on page one of male parenting 101. But I just never got quite as attached to league, cricket, or that one Richie McCaw plays.

Some 18 years have since passed, and I’m lucky enough to be currently planning my seventh trip to Mount Panorama.

The 1000 is one of a select circle of international motorsport events that have the capacity and heritage to change a racer’s life in the space of a single day. A driver can enter the revolving door of Bathurst as an unknown, a pay driver, or an also-ran — and exit a hero, with the words ‘former Bathurst champion’ inevitably tacked onto every article about them for decades to come. It’s an element that gives the event a certain special aura.

There are no proverbial ‘cheap seats’ at Bathurst. The circuit is fantastically open, and you can virtually walk a lap around its circumference if you’ve rationed enough cardio brownie points. Those who get to the venue early enough in the week bring cans of spray paint with them, which they then use to mark out their territory for the week. And it’s something that most other attendees honour — although Sunday morning is quick becoming fair game.

Many have labelled the 2014 Bathurst 1000 a Hollywood blockbuster, but in my view that doesn’t quite go far enough. A Hollywood blockbuster generally follows a believable plot, with particular attention paid by the people behind the camera and editing screens to not feed the audience an item that defies logic or reason — this provides the foundation for everything else.

That’s the 2014 event’s clincher — its plot was one that treated logic and reason as if they were worthless throwaway concepts. Everyone has their own favourite, and for that reason 2014 is mine.

I’m not going to go through the nuances of the race. It would be an injustice to take an eight-hour classic and boil it down to just a few hundred words in some blog written almost 12 months after the fact. There are plenty of websites, magazines, and videos out there that have already done an adequate job of that.

But going through the nuances is what I aim to do for the 2015 Bathurst 1000. I’ll be trackside from Wednesday morning until Sunday afternoon, with my trusty cameras strapped around my shoulders. I’ll be posting galleries and articles on The Motorhood each day, hopefully serving you with an alternative insight into the race that you won’t get anywhere else. Hopefully I can do Bathurst proud.