Feature Mark Walker October 15, 2022 (Comments off) (822)

Bathurst 1000: TRT’s Epic Diary

Bathurst 2022 sure had a bit on for team TRT.

Last year we kept a running log of our week, with this year’s effort somewhat blasting it out of the water.

Not only did The Race Torque team keep busy with content through our own website and channels, but we also took on board PR support for the Caltex Young Stars main game one-off entry for Matt Chahda and Jay Robotham.

Wildcards are a funny animal – being in existence for one week only, every commitment and task that the typical team can spread over an entire season has to be shoehorned into seven days.

Fortunately, we were massively assisted by our new recruit for the weekend Erin McCarthy, who was embedded with the team and was able to feed us with great content throughout, from updates, quotes, daily features and more. A true lifesaver.

Tony Schibeci was also trackside, beavering away behind the scenes on excellent On the Grid podcast content, including our Halfway There update on Saturday morning.

Richard Craill continued to be the busiest person in world motorsport, smashing it out of the park across multiple mediums with perfectly delivered live TV commentary for various categories, extended TV fill during the Saturday afternoon washout, constant live ABC Grandstand radio updates, a range of writing tasks for various clients, plus being the driving force behind the Caltex program.

For the author, race week featured a combination of TRT and Caltex content, spliced in with a mix of regular work from my Media and Communication Services day job, including writing for Carsales.com.au, plus bits and pieces for clients such as Doric, NTI and ZF Services.

As always, I find life easier if I have a plan – this is what 2022’s race week looked like pre-event, although things mixed and matched with some flexibility as required as the days wore on.

Want to work in the motorsport media? Hot tip, don’t get attached to regular sleep patterns.

All said, team TRT spent about 77 hours trackside, there were 77km walked for the week in total, and a grand sum of 20,962 photos were taken, which was up 2,833 on last year’s extended Bathurst extravaganza.

Travelling at an average speed of around 1km/h doesn’t quite do the event justice.

Below is the author’s week away, hugely draining, but massively rewarding. I wouldn’t swap it for anything.

Sunday, October 2nd

0 photos, 5,191 steps, 3.84km walked

With race week kicking off early on Monday morning in Sydney, the journey to Bathurst commenced at 1:39pm Sunday from Melbourne, after a quick round of last-minute packing and chores were completed.

After navigating a reasonable degree of traffic exiting the Ring Road, the blast up the Hume was straightforward enough – as it transpires, driving through New South Wales at the time of the NRL grand final was a solid tactical choice.

I touched down at the Bakehouse Motel at Goulburn’s Big Merino at around 9:30pm, and after a car refuel, it was time for bed.

The Caltex livery launch drew a crowd, despite the public holiday. Hazards of commuting – this red-bellied black snake clearly had a shunt on one of the region’s many potholes…

Monday, October 3rd 

80 photos, 4,561 steps, 3.38km walked

I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and watched the rain-delayed Singapore Grand Prix, before writing my race report for Carsales. I finished up around 2:30am, and hit the bed for a little while before giving the yarn a proof and forwarding it on at 6:59am.

I hit the fog-shrouded road shortly afterwards, destined for the Jack & Co Caltex Service Station at Lane Cove on the northside of Sydney Harbour, arriving at around 9:30am ahead of the 10:30am media launch.

After chatting with the team and recording some launch audio and podcast interviews, I briefed the photographer Rhys Vandersyde and videographer Tom Rattenbury, plus the Channel 7 and Supercars Media folks in attendance – it was a hectic launch, but all of the boxes were crossed off.

I worked in my car at the Jack & Co issuing the various release types, arranging for Medianet distribution, posting to the TRT channels, and finishing off the Carsales Bathurst preview, before heading off to the ABC studios at Ultimo at around 1:15pm to pick up Richard’s radio broadcasting kit.

Next up was the drive through the Blue Mountains – heading west was fine, but the long weekend traffic returning east looked painful – when are they building that tunnel from Penrith to Lithgow?

The trip included a couple of slight detours via the former Sunny Corner and Peel street circuits for an upcoming TRT feature, before arriving in Bathurst close to 5pm, and working from the front seat office to mop up the work for the day.

Editor Craill arrived at around 5:30pm, and we headed off to Jack Duggan’s now non-Irish pub for a feed.

Official portrait time, Craig Lowndes mania, setup in full swing at the track, and quite how a flooded paddock burnt down, we’re still not sure…

Tuesday, October 4th

99 photos, 10,014 steps, 7.41km walked

I set myself up for a dive by getting addicted to the true-crime “Night Driver” podcast en route to Bathurst, with my binge of the locally-based unsolved murder series finishing way too early on Tuesday morning.

To complete the podcasting experience, before our 7:15am departure, I undertook a walking tour of town via the key locations detailed in the pod. Unfortunately, subsequent to the wander, all local crimes remain unsolved.

Also sadly, The Hub was closed on Tuesday for breakfast, so we went up the street to Al Dente for a quick feed.

We walked into the media centre at 7:53am, although others had clearly lobbed in on Monday – not long ago, the first arrivals in town would be expected on Wednesday morning.

For the most part, Tuesday was spent catching up on work, preparing templates, solidifying timetables, preparing briefings, issuing media notes, plus updating a range of documents for the week. There was a stack to do, including a lap of the pits for our annual Big Rigs of Bathurst gallery.

I bugged out for a while to catch the start of the Supercheap Auto livery unveil in Kelso which was expertly hosted by Craill, before swinging by the Bathurst Sportsground in Havannah Street, another bygone Bathurst motosport venue, before heading back to the circuit to finish up the day’s trackside work.

That evening, the drive back to the salubrious Knickerbocker Hotel featured a detour via the old Vale Circuit, which somehow featured a significant grass fire, despite the sodden fields.

We recorded our On the Grid preview podcast from RC’s room, which I followed up with a vindaloo in my bed, before working through to about 10pm, getting ahead of the game with things like our Notebook prep for the week.

Jammed it on pole position in the Bathurst car park for the first time ever, track walk, the incredible National Motor Racing Museum, filming for the TV opener, Caltex media call, the parade, and attending official team duties at a brewery: amazing.

Wednesday, October 5th 

1,941 photos, 19,250 steps, 14.24km walked

Clearly, I got up too early, and arrived at Harris Park at 5:44am for my annual track walk.

It was bloody dark, which made photography around the first half of the lap near impossible – the ultimate aim was to arrive at McPhillamy Park in time for the 6:30am sunrise.

I nailed the timing to the second, but of course, the sky to the east back towards the Blue Mountains was filled with heavy clouds. Fail.

I made it back down to the National Motor Racing Museum at 7:40am, with the legendary Brad Owen showing me around the fantastic Repco 100 Years display, plus some of the other new pieces on show.

It was then off to the media centre to keep plugging away at work, before we lined up Russell Ingall’s BA Falcon next to the much newer Caltex ZB Commodore for a photo shoot from around 9:30am.

The various PR assets were collated before dashing into town to catch the truck and driver parade at around 11am – I wound up parking several blocks north of the action – there was a big crowd in attendance – before battling the persistent rain to get some happy snaps of festivities.

I caught up with Matt and Jay after the parade and we headed off to the George Hotel for some lunch, trying our best to avoid the precipitation before their signing session kicked off at 1:15pm.

With the autograph stage set up in front of the town courthouse, we were informed by the Bathurst Sheriff that any photographs taken on the courthouse steps would attract a $25,000 fine. We will definitely keep that in mind for next time…

Once a round of pics were captured, it was back to the media centre to file content, which at the end of each day included the TRT Notebook series, plus the daily gallery.

Also, after each photographic session, the hi-res Caltex pics were uploaded for team and sponsor use, plus branded social media tiles were developed.

I once again departed the track to head to the team’s Reckless Brewing Company appearance at 4pm, taking pics of proceedings, and indulging in a brilliant facility tour by our host Jarrod.

Next up was dinner at the Rose Garden Chinese from around 7pm, before heading back to our new abode for the week, a home in West Bathurst.

Wrapped up some more work before bed.

Old mate flipping the bird turned into the viral hit of the weekend. Not everyone is a Dick Johnson fan…

Thursday, October 6th

3,437 photos, 14,247 steps, 10.54km walked

Finally, we got to see some machinery on track.

We rolled into the media centre at 5:49am, and I filed a Carsales story on the big finale for Holden.

The first job outside was to shoot the Caltex team’s pit stop practice, which was wrapping up as the Heritage Touring Cars entered the circuit at 7:25am.

I caught a lift on the media shuttle from Harris Park to the top of the Hill in time to catch the Utes ripping through the fog and the mist.

I wandered around the top for the next few sessions, also taking in the campgrounds – the standard Thursday plan is to stand on the inside of the track at The Esses, but with Rhys already stationed there, I shot the Supercars on the outside from McPhillamy back to the Cutting.

Unfortunately, the media shuttle back to the bottom was somewhat delayed, which gave me a really tight deadline to file a story on the launch of the new Mustang for Carsales.

I managed to sneak out to shoot the afternoon session from Hell Corner back to Murray’s Corner and then the pits, before filing the daily gallery, notebook, various bits of social media art, and for Caltex, touched up and uploaded hi-res images, provided RC with the social artwork for posting, prepared the daily Matt Chahda diary for the Wide World of Sports team, post the release RC and Erin created in Mailchimp to the various lists, which was then placed on the TRT website.

For an idea of the TRT content that the team pumped out for the week, check the bottom of Saturday’s Notebook for a list.

Somewhat later, dinner was back at Reckless Brewing, before returning to the ranch to set up the following day’s work.

Apparently it was sunny at some stage…? Recording a podcast on the floor, and some big-time on-track action.

Friday, October 7th 

4,691 photos, 15,513 steps, 11.48km walked

With the car parks now firmly shut, we got to the track exceedingly early to find a dry place to abandon the car, and again set up shop in the media centre at 5:49am.

After a lap of the pits, it was up to the top of the hill to shoot from The Cutting down to Forrest’s Elbow and back up to The Esses, by which stage it was raining as the Gen3 cars cut their pre-lunch laps.

It was always in my plan to shoot practice four from the outside of The Chase, which was a decent idea, as there was plenty of action in that area.

When Macauley Jones became embedded in the fence, I decided to head back to the inside of Murray’s, firstly because it was close to base and I was well and truly over standing in the rain, and secondly, there was a fair bit going on there with cars spearing off earlier in the session.

I was fortunate to capture Craig Lowndes having his splashdown, and proud of myself for hitting the panic button on my new-fangled camera so that the sequence wasn’t a blurred mess.

I then filed a special gallery of those pics, and with that part of track covered off, I elected to get ahead of work back in the media centre rather than re-soak myself to take similar shots in qualifying.

Judging by the lack of action in that session, I was somewhat vindicated in my call.

In addition to the filing list from Thursday, on Friday afternoon there was also a qualifying report for Carsales and the recording of an On the Grid Podcast.

We snuck out late to catch up with friend of TRT Tom Arcuili at Terrace Thai then returned to the shack to prep for Saturday.

Mud and more mud. Nick Capper and Brett Blake, and finally I nailed down CL for a selfie after he gave me such a good photo the day before…

Saturday, October 8th

4,206 photos, 16,814 steps, 12.44km walked

We checked in to the media centre at 5:33am, I took in pit stop practice, and then made the annual pilgrimage on foot up the centre of the track via The Chase and Griffins Bend to the Cutting.

The opening Supercars session was somewhat delayed by red flags, resulting in a race back across some paddocks to the pits to give the lads from the Flat Stick podcast a garage and transporter tour.

I shot the final practice session from the inside of The Chase back to Murray’s Corner, then returned to the media centre to start filing Caltex content, and simply stayed hunkered down there as there was no good reason to head out again, as it quickly became apparent that the afternoon’s running would be canned.

When we escaped the mud of Harris Park, on the recommendation of TRT’s Ultimate City Guide, we picked up some O My Grill for dinner, which was great, and returned to base to build up NTI’s social media wrap-up video clip.

The scene in the media centre about an hour and a half before dawn, my cars in the three sweeps finished 13th, 18th and 19th, team photo, Alex Davison giving me a relaxing mud bath, Brad Hodge yoinked my seat, and I’m stoked about it. The Brett Parrish.

Sunday, October 9th

6,508 photos, 15,117 steps, 11.19km walked

Because: Bathurst, we arrived at the media centre after our long-winded traipse through the mud at 5:13am, finally beaten to sign in for the first time of the week by Ross Gibb – well played Rosco on sleeping even less than us!

I started out the day in the pits and walked a lap of the garages up to Hell Corner for the start of the SuperUtes, then took in the warm-up from the roof of the pit building.

Then I shot the conclusion of the driver parade from the end of the pit lane, then filed the first of the day’s three galleries.

Next up, I took in the pre-race festivities from the Caltex car, shooting the various team photos, then headed to the front of the grid for the National Anthem and the flyover.

I covered the start from the traditional turn-one escape road vantage, before making the executive decision to switch up my program for 2022.

Typically, I would head to the top of The Mountain directly after the start, but having covered it earlier in the weekend, I chose to head over to The Chase, as it saved half an hour of transit time, plus there would likely be a fair degree of action there… which as it transpires, was correct.

Thank you to Daniel Kalisz for sewing that seed in my head!

After Alex Davison ploughed into the fence I was standing behind, it was time to head back to the media centre to file the half-time content, then cut a lap of the pits, shoot from the inside of Hell and Murray’s, start prepping the end of day content, then take in the finish from the pit wall.

After shooting the first half of the podium, content-palooza 2022 kicked into overdrive, with all of the standard pieces prepared, in addition to the NTI video and Carsales reports for both Bathurst and the F1 from Suzuka.

Finally, after congratulating and farewelling the team, the annual end-of-event dinner and lie-telling contest took place at The Great Wall restaurant.

Ultimately, the final email was sent at 10:59pm, concluding one long ass day…

Monday, October 10th 

0 photos, 3,015 steps, 2.23km walked

Up at 4:39am, to join the stream of caravans that also decided to leave at that time, which was mildly frustrating, with the horrid condition of the roads back to the Hume somewhat compounding issues.

I arrived home at 1:39pm, unloaded the car, and slept, although a week later, I’m nowhere near caught up…

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