BATHURST 1000: 2021 TRT Event Diary
95 hours trackside, 98km walked, 18,129 photos taken.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in the motorsport media at the Bathurst 1000? Last weekend, Mark Walker kept a running diary of his extended Bathurst 1000 race week, and in hindsight, it is somewhat overwhelming…
Friday, November 26th
108 photos, 5,947 steps, 4.4km walked
Clearly woke up far too early, so I hit the road from the eastern outskirts of Melbourne at 3:36am, for the worst road trip to Bathurst ever.
From extensive overnight roadworks on Melbourne’s arterials to torrential rain from Albury to Gundagai, to flooding in multiple places on the Coolac to Cootamundra road, to the Old Gundagai Road being completely shut, to three trees down across various roads, to the stretch from Gundagai to Bathurst being one giant pothole, which caused many other cars to suffer flat tyres, it wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience.
After 8hr and 38min, I rolled into town and after emptying the car, it was straight to the Church Bar for a sneaky spicy pizza and pot.
Later in the afternoon, we visited the National Motor Racing Museum and previewed the excellent Larry Perkins exhibit before its official opening.
Rounding out the day, we conned our way past security onto the track for a cold lap of the circuit before a BBQ at base camp.
Saturday, November 27th
87 photos, 10,318 steps, 7.64km walked
The day TRT went full tourist in Bathurst.
We started out by cutting a few laps of the Old Vale Circuit for an upcoming feature story, then buzzed around the corner to check out the Bathurst Light Car Club’s John Windsor Motorsport Park, and stopped by the Chase campground for a photo-op on the drive back into town.
We checked out the awesome Bathurst Rail Museum, as reported in our Day 1 Notebook, did a spot of antiquities shopping before the annual visit to Jack Duggan’s Irish Pub.
The next stop was Ash’s Speedway Museum, after which time we returned to base to file this story, and blab about how great it was, peer pressuring Heath McAlpine into giving Ash a visit.
Later in the afternoon, it was back the old Vale Circuit for some more laps, before a general country drive and a pot at the Perthville Hotel.
Sunday, November 28th
534 photos, 14,866 steps, 11km walked
There were lots of grand plans for Sunday, including going to the speedway bike meet at Woodstock Park Speedway, but we wound up completing our four-hour amble around the Mount Panorama race track before we returned to base to edit up our gallery and churn out the weekly podcast.
Monday, November 29th
380 photos, 14,480 steps, 10.72km walked, at track 7:34am – 5:55pm
After setting up shop in TRT’s aisle in the media centre, most of the day was spent there completing real-world work bits.
I quickly ducked out for the grid photoshoot with all of the various categories involved in the event, and later went up to Hell Corner for Matt Hall landing his plane on Mountain Straight. Here I caught up with Craig Lowndes for a chat and a photo-op.
Later on, Editor Craill had organised with Brad Owen at the National Motor Racing Museum and Steven Johnson to have Tru Blus Two and Three lined up for a photo. Pushing the 1981 Bathurst winning car into place was pretty special.
Plan for the Week
I can’t vouch for anyone else, but I find that I operate most efficiently at race meetings when I have a plan, which was somewhat complicated this year by the many iterations of the schedule that were made public.
There are a lot of considerations to take into play for an event of this size– including time-critical client commitments, the position of the sun, access (you can’t go on the inside of the track at the top on race day, etc), not shooting the same categories from the same place more than once, and being close to the media centre when it is time to file.
I also find that I’m a creature of habit. Over the years a lot of my general program has worked well, so there’s no point in making major changes to it, plus I tend to try and cover as much ground as possible in a session – I really dislike getting the same angle for more than two laps – if you can’t get the photo to work in that time, my feeling is that you should try something else. In other words, I tend not to spend a whole session in the same spot waiting for a crash.
Now I’m not a pro photographer by any stretch, I have a pretty old, baseline-spec kit, but it has been sufficient to derive an income of varying degrees out of motorsport for the past 20 something years.
From my regular day job there were photos/social media duties for Doric (Shell V-Power Racing) and ZF (Craig Lowndes in Carrera Cup and Supercars), an end of weekend social media clip for NTI, plus be on the lookout for any Hino related photo ops.
There were also photos for the Earl Bamber Motorsport trio of Matthew Payne, Madeline Stewart and Callum Hedge, plus Josh Fife in Super2, and added into the mix were written race reports for the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia presented by AWS and the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia.
On The Race Torque side of the equation, I made the call that the Notebook format for daily reports would be easier to manage than individual Power Rankings (which last year were simple to complete from home), plus the various photo galleries and random social media posts.
While the above schedule for the week wasn’t hard and fast, it was a great basis to work from, and it meant that the Supercars sessions were ultimately shot from practically every allowable photo angle around the track, with a bare minimum of double-ups.
Tuesday, November 30th
1,276 photos, 16,122 steps, 11.93km walked, at track 6:23am – 7:02pm
The first cab off the rank was to make sure I got a pic of the first V8 SuperUte to drive onto the track for the day two Notebook.
Next up was to catch the media bus to the top of the hill – this year with the jam-packed schedule, the old runs on track between sessions were benched in favour of shuttles from Harris Park around the outside access road to the top. That said, an on-track drop off was still offered prior to the very first session of each day.
It was a highly efficient system, with Pete, Chris and Harry making this work oh-so brilliantly. Well done team, you made life incredibly easy!
I caught the end of the Utes from McPhillamy Park, then it was to the Esses for TCM, GTs from McPhillamy down to the Esses, before skipping to the inside of the Esses for TCR between some red flags.
While the media shuttles were perfect, the whole crossing the track between sessions at the Esses was seemingly quite difficult at times, and totally dependent on who was officiating. Some experienced heads get the flow of the track and how it operates, others don’t, and that’s life.
Overwhelmingly, the volunteers around the track were very warm and helpful, ditto security around the precinct, whose roles have vastly changed in COVID times.
Then it was back to the bottom of the hill to shoot the Earl Bamber Motorsport setup, with the S5000 build-up taken in from the pits, before walking up to the Chase to finish the session.
It was then GT Race report time, before heading to the outside of Murray’s Corner for the end of the Trans Ams and the whole of S5000 practice two, before returning to the media centre to file the daily gallery and Notebook.
The evenings of race week tended to feature finishing off work and setting up for the next day late into the night back the cottage, which for instance, was wound up at 11pm on Sunday night.
Due to reasons COVID in nature, heading out every night to the pub was pretty much taken off the social calendar, which was understandable, but at the same time, a shame.
Wednesday, December 1st
2,700 photos, 11,779 steps, 8.72km walked, at track 6:15am – 7:24pm
Caught the early media bus on the track to the Esses, then walked to the Elbow for the Toyota 86s, stayed there for the Touring Car Masters before walking to the exit of the Dipper, took in the TCR session from the outside of the Dipper and the Esses, then the Super2 session from the entry to McPhillamy to the Esses.
Returned to the bottom to file the GT Qualifying report, before taking in the S5000s on top of the pit building, then the daily Earl Bamber Motorsport shoot, and Josh Fife in the pits.
I caught the Carrera Cup from the inside of Murray’s Corner, filed the Carrera Cup practice report, TRT’s gallery and client pics, before shooting the TCRs from the outside of Murray’s, and TCMs on top of the pits.
Ended the day in the media centre compiling the daily Notebook.
Thursday, December 2nd
2,603 photos, 13,997 steps, 10.36km walked, at track 6:09am –6:56pm
Ace snapper Daniel Kalisz very correctly suggested it would be a prime time to capture the standard sun rising over the Bathurst grid shot, which worked a treat.
It was then back to the media centre before returning to the end of pit lane for Thomas Randle’s livery launch.
I then caught the media bus to the Esses and walked on the inside of the track along the new pathway to Reid Park for the SuperUtes, and John Hinxman Vista for S5000 discretionary laps and the TCM race.
It’s an area that has only recently opened up for photographers, however, it really only offers a couple of truly nice angles.
It was then back to Skyline and the Esses for Super2, with a side-trip to the inside of the Dipper for Supercars practice one, before the nervous wait to see if the track would be opened up post-session for crossing.
Successfully on the outside of the track, I covered the Carrera Cup from the Dipper up to Skyline.
It was then back to the media centre for the GT Race report, before the end of the S5000 session was taken in from the inside of Murrays Corners, then the V8 SuperUtes from the Chase.
Friday, December 3rd
2,527 photos, 15,550 steps, 11.51km walked, at track 5:58am – 6:45pm
First up was the Gen 3 launch in the pits, with a quick dash to the outside of Murray’s for the final TCM race.
After the GT Race Report, I headed up to Skyline, walked down to the Elbow and back for Supercars practice three.
After taking in the Toyota 86s from McPhillamy, I went for a walk around the campgrounds, before the start of the TCR race from the John Hinxman Vista back to Reid Park, before catching a shuttle for the finish of the race on the outside of Hell Corner.
By that time I was thoroughly cooked, so after a couple of bottles of water, I shot the Supercars practice from the same place, before catching up again with the Earl Bamber Motorsports crew in the paddock.
Finished the Supercars session at the bridge on Conrod, then Gen 3 from the Chase, before shooting the Porsches and Josh Fife on the dummy grid.
Saturday, December 4th
3,129 photos, 14,273 steps, 10.56km walked, at track 5:48am – 7:25pm
I started off the day with the traditional walk up the middle of the circuit to Griffiths Bend, taking in the various sights.
As it transpires, the gate to the new walkway to the Cutting was left unlocked, ditto the gate at the top of the hill, so it was somewhat a bonus to get to shoot this otherwise inaccessible for 2021 area.
As nice as it is to shoot the Cutting, the hike there up the new path is a deadest killer, both in terms of the climb and the snake threat, with the untamed six-foot high grass depicted above left…
After the Trans Ams, V8 SuperUtes and the start of the Supercars session, I commuted back down to Griffith’s for the finish of the session under Matt Campbell’s red flag.
Caught the start of the S5000 race from the same area, before catching a shuttle back to The Chase for the restart, while I shot the Supercars from both inside and outside of that section of track.
Following the daily Josh Fife pics in the paddock, it was off to the Shell Corporate Box to catch up with the Doric team, before heading to the commentary box during the TCR race to capture some shots for an upcoming TRT feature.
Sunday, December 5th
4,785 photos, 15,160 steps, 11.22km, at track 5:36am –8:30pm
The Race Torque completed a sweep of signing in to the media centre first on every day of race week…
Following a lap of the pits and Harris Park hunting for souvenirs to take home to the kid, it was off to the outside of Murray’s for the Toyota 86s and the Supercars warm-up, and after a quick pit stop, I finished the session on the roof of the pits as the cars rolled in, staying there for the Gen 3 demo.
I like to find a place where you can shoot the driver’s parade where you are at the centre of their attention, which I manufactured as the convertibles entered the pit lane.
Then it was time for one last Carrera Cup report a morning gallery, followed quickly afterwards by the grid walk – I like to start at the back and work my way forward with the drivers.
After catching the first three laps at Hell Corner, the shuttle was waiting to head up to Skyline, before working back to The Cutting and catching the punter’s bus back to the bottom.
It was then off to the DJR Corporate Box, and back to the media centre to finish up posting the first half gallery.
A lap of the pit lane garages followed, then shooting the track up to the Mountain Straight gate, returning through the garages on the run back to the media centre.
After a quick stint on the roof of the pits, it was then time to hang out in a breezeway in the pit lane waiting for the finish – I like to shoot from the chequered flag from the pit wall, then duck across to the podium – running across the track after the finish then vaulting the pit wall with your camera kit is a somewhat difficult task, especially amongst the sea of punters.
Despite calls for no track invasions, the podium this year was an utter shambles – whatever security failures happened, they really need to be addressed in the future…
Monday, December 6th
0 photos, very few steps
Departed Bathurst at 4:45am, returning home 8hr 44min later, somewhat buggered.
What a week…