It's almost that time of year again ... Time for the most prestigious race in all of Australia.
In the United States, many NASCAR enthusiasts oftentimes refer to the Daytona 500 as 'The Great American Race.' Regarded as one of the most prestigious motor races in the world, it is laced with history which dates back to its first event which took place in 1959. For 200 laps, drivers run a flat-out race on a track which consists of 31° banking on the two major turns, 18° banking on the Tri-oval and all while running door-to-door at speeds which oftentimes exceeds 200mph.
It’s truly a sight to behold
In Australia, however, the V8 Supercars Series have their own great race ... The Bathurst 1000. Held annually at Mount Panorama Circuit which is located in the town of Bathurst in New South Wales, the track is oftentimes referred to simply as 'The Mountain.' The reason for such a label is due to the fact that the track was literally cut out from the side of Mount Panorama. Although it doesn’t have the sharp banking as Daytona does, the circuit does feature a substantial 570-foot elevation difference between its lowest and highest levels. It also features 23 challenging turns – any one of which is capable of ending a driver’s race (or worse) – and stretches out at just over 3.8 miles of public road. Yes, you read that right. Mount Panorama Circuit is a public road which is closed off during races.
With turn names like Hell Corner, The Cutting, Brock’s Skyline and The Esses, it’s not too difficult to imagine why Bathurst has earned the reputation it holds near and dear to its mountainous heart. Considered by many to be one of the world’s most legendary and challenging racing circuits, the Bathurst 1000 is the premier Australian motor racing event and a victory at The Mountain is more than just a Sunday drive.
Winning is winning, right?
Winning the Daytona 500 is what some would call a 'crap shoot.' If you’re able to keep your car running, find a draft partner and survive the inevitable 'Big One' (a large wreck which consumes several cars and happens almost every year), you may have a chance to pull a Trevor Bayne and win.
Winning at Bathurst, however, is more than surviving whatever other drivers throw at you. Some historians and drivers would argue that The Mountain is alive. The reason being is because the Bathurst 1000 takes over six-hours to complete. That means there’s a difference in temperature throughout the day and, as it’s a long race, there’s always the risk of changing weather conditions which can wreak havoc on unprepared and/or inexperienced drivers.
The price of immortality
This infamous Mount Panorama cares nothing for good intentions, strong hopes or dreams of success. It rewards a driver’s determination and courage with victory while handing defeat to those it deems unworthy. This “defeat”, however, sometimes comes at a high price.
Since its opening in April of 1938, seventeen different drivers have been killed while racing at Mount Panorama.
For V8 Supercar drivers, a win at The Mountain holds the highest degree of prestige and honor one can attain outside of winning a championship. It means that your name is etched into history, it means you fought the battles and won the war. Winning the Bathurst 1000 and claiming the Peter Brock trophy means you have survived more than just fellow man and machine; it means you’ve survived The Mountain itself.