Can finishing second really hurt that much? According to V8 Supercars star Rick Kelly, there's little in racing more painful than being runner-up at Bathurst.
Finishing second at Bathurst is incredibly tough… and it’s something my brother Todd and I experienced in 2006.
From the position of people who haven’t experienced the Bathurst 1000 from a driver’s point of view, or experienced the desire to win it as strong as what we have, they might look at the results sheet and say ‘that was a good result! You finished second and missed out on the win by five-tenths – that must be good!’
I can tell you, that was probably the most painful Bathurst experience that I have ever had.
I was in tears at the end of that race because we came so close to winning the biggest prize in Australian motorsport, and we fell just short.
At least if you have a DNF or finish 20th, you can walk away from the weekend knowing you were no realistic chance of winning it.
However, to come that close to winning it is painful, it’s painful because it means that much to us.
I chased Craig Lowndes down in that last stint, with everything I had. Absolutely everything.
I think it was pretty obvious looking on from the sidelines that he was trying, too. He put a couple of wheels off at Skyline; winning that race on that day meant the exactly same thing to him as well.
He was obviously in tears on the podium for different reasons to us… but it’s an emotional day, whether you win or if you come second.
Yes it was good result that year, after finishing a close second at Sandown, it was another solid achievement with two brothers in the car. But it was equally as painful to come that close to winning the race.
You can take that however you like, but at the end of the day, I think it’s important that you do feel like that because it shows just how much it means, how important it is, and just what you would do to claim victory.
If you don’t care that much about it, you should question why you are there to start with.
It means an awful lot, and I think it showed on the day.
The ‘Road Trip’ tradition continues
The Bathurst road trip for us started in 2001 or 2002, with Nathan Pretty, myself and my brother Todd. It started in a Britz motorhome, and the whole premise behind it was to get to the event nice and relaxed and in a good state of mind, because the race weekend is so full on.
In that first year, we packed the golf clubs in the motorhome, camped on the side of the road overnight, before arriving in Bathurst and playing nine holes of golf on the Tuesday. Following the festivities, we swapped into race mode ready to attack The Mountain over the weekend.
The road trip has developed from there. We still do it for the original reasons, so it’s been interesting and honestly a real surprise to see the level of interest we’ve raised over the years with the different cars that we’ve driven.
It’s gone from a motorhome experience through to different old cars, always doing something a bit light hearted, having some fun, getting dressed up, and arriving at Bathurst in a nice relaxed frame of mind.
I guess a lot of the vehicles over the years haven’t been terribly suitable to the job!
Last year’s Nissan Bluebird Turbo was a pleasant surprise; it was really comfy, and it had a bit of speed about it as well.
Definitely the most comfortable transport we’ve taken was the Cadillac limousine in 2010, which was pretty special for us. One night at the track we left the sun roof open and it rained, so it quickly turned into more of a spa bath than a limo…
Definitely one of the best things about the limo is you can park it absolutely anywhere, who wouldn’t want a well-loved limo parked out the front of their shop?
It’s a lot of fun, and it gets a bit of attention as well.
This year will be no exception; we’re keen to do something a little bit different again.
We’ve never managed to break down on the way to Bathurst despite our best efforts, but we certainly have run the odd car out of fuel, and we’ve had to hike to the nearest service station.
Fortunately there are a lot of great cars in the Nissan and Datsun family, hopefully this year we will keep the run going of suffering zero break downs, and we will get there in one piece. Keep an eye out over this weekend when the Bathurst adventure kicks off for the 15th time.