Insight Mark Walker October 14, 2023 (Comments off) (273)

Bathurst 1000: TRT’s Race Week Diary

Do you ever finish a work week and feel rather tired? Right now, we’re a week on from the Bathurst 1000, and we’re still not in a great spot…

This is our yearly recap of race week from behind the curtain, recapping what it’s like to work in the media at our biggest motor race of the year as told from the author’s perspective at my 17th Great Race appearance.

You can compare and contrast the below with the diaries from 2021 and 2022 – which both had their quirks.

In 2021, we arrived well in advance of the biggest race meet Australia had ever seen, while the 2022 adventure also kicked off early when we were tasked with managing the PR for the Caltex Young Stars wildcard entry, so exact like-for-like comparisons are hard to make.

For 2022, a greater after-hours effort was put into ensuring that content delivery during the day was achieved in a timely fashion, but this year, more emphasis was placed on quick turnarounds at the end of each session, resulting in the prompt delivery of pics and words.

In 2023, I took a grand total of 28,238 photos and covered 71.98km on foot from Wednesday to Sunday, up 36% and 20%, respectively over last year.

There were also significant efficiencies made during the days by simply working smarter – for instance, taking my laptop with me into the field allowed me to edit and file photos and stories in the downtime between sessions, while additional minutes were saved by starting image uploads while full photo sets were still rendering out of Adobe Lightroom.

Also, galleries on The Race Torque were published to the world early each day, and subsequently updated as the sessions progressed.


Perfect Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Prep for race week started some time out – first of all, getting packing lists sorted, my photo kit cleaned and prepped, and getting as many proformas set up ahead of time – for website posts, image folders, story templates, video templates, social posts and more.

Completing these in bulk in the evenings ahead of race week was somewhat easier to knock them over in one hit, ultimately saving a few minutes here and there over the race weekend, significantly reducing stress levels.

As always, I like to have my race weekends planned out to the minute, so that I’m in the right place at the right time, enabling me to file items on time, while not duplicating photo angles throughout the event.

For each core category, I try to cover as much ground as possible, resulting in different photo angles from each session.

Lots of considerations come into play here, including traditions that simply make sense and work, sunlight angles, photographic accessibility, ease of filing and more.

From a photography perspective, outside of the various galleries on The Race Torque website, I was also looking after Jack Le Brocq and Valentino Astuti in Super3.

Additionally, from my regular day job at Media & Communication Services, there was a range of media tasks involving Lanotec ambassador Jay Robotham, ZF Technical Product Expert Craig Lowndes, Hino trucks, and written reports for Carsales.com.au.

Other writing included the daily Notebook Series on The Race Torque, plus the end-of-weekend Power Rankings.

Elsewhere in The Race Torque row of the media centre, Richard Craill continued to knock it out of the park as the Porsche Motorsport PR man and commentator, plus ABC Grandstand radio pundit, with he and the guru Tony Schibeci also beavering away on Notebook, Power Rankings content and more.


Tuesday, October 3, 2023

0 photos, 2,932 steps, 1.99km walked

I departed the east side of Melbourne in far from optimal driving conditions at 6:48pm, with a solid plan to drive until I was tired, then set up camp in a safe place.

However, with it thoroughly hosing down until around Holbrook, it was a helluva drive, punctuated at one point by a pothole that was under police guard, after it clearly destroyed four different cars. Ugh.

Once the worst of the rain was cleared, the wind absolutely kicked up a gale, which covered the road with debris.

Tiredness never came – it was an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride the entire drive north, so when I rolled into the backlots of Mount Panorama at 3:01am, 8hr 13min after departure, decent shut-eye was somewhat hard to obtain.


Wednesday, October 4, 2023

2,341 photos, 20,331 steps, 13.83km walked, at track 5:45am – 10:00am

The whole premise of getting to Bathurst early was to make sure I was set up for the parade and other festivities in town, however, with the afternoon weather forecast looking foul, I rearranged life to bowl over the annual track walk first, before heading into town.

Giving up on sleep, I got to the Harris Park gates at around 5:45am, and once the skies brightened enough, I set off for my lap on foot, this time capturing the track from the marshal’s eye view.

Encountering only a few spots of rain, I then headed into the media centre to claim our row of seats, before getting stuck into work, going downstairs to the Truck Assist pits to start collecting content, then cut a quick lap of the pits for some pics, which included taking in the Erebus skateboard stunt on pit straight.

I decided to head into town early to get a competent car park, grab some brunch, and set myself in place for the truck and driver parade.

Unfortunately, by this stage, the rains had started in earnest, which made life uncomfortable for all and sundry.

Once the last of the driver signing sessions were finished and photos were filed, I quickly ran some errands and headed back to our house for the weekend, which was handily located some 737m from Murray’s Corner as the crow flies.

The original plan was to work from the media centre, but with the rain sideways and the car park a bog, that prospect wasn’t entirely enticing, so working at home was a great strategic play, where I managed to file the Notebook and tick other items off the list.

Dinner at the incredible Reckless Brewing was followed by some more work and an early night.


Thursday, October 5, 2023

5,007 photos, 20,366 steps, 13.85km walked, at track 5:48am – 7:30pm

Up early to walk to the track (via Editor Craill’s patented shortcut), and we set up shop for the week.

Following Supercars pitstop practice, I documented the start of the first session on track for the weekend, the Sports Sedans, from the dummy grid, which transcended into a proper cluster.

I quickly made my way over a couple of bridges to the National Motor Racing Museum to catch up with Brad Owen for a quick tour of their new exhibits and documented the scene for distribution through the Notebooks during the week.

After a brief tour of sideshow alley in Harris Park, the 60-year display in the pits, the Super2 pits and the paddock as a whole for the trucks at the track feature, I caught the Carrera Cup session from the inside of Murray’s, made another lap of Matt Stone Racing, the Astuti Nissan on the dummy grid, before heading over to the outside of the Chase for Super2 opening practice, which saw me backtrack down to Murray’s.

Photos were then sorted, the Notebook updated, and I filed a story to Carsales regarding the ongoing parity dramas.

Typically, I would start Thursday at the Elbow and work my way up, but with the different schedule this year, where the Supercars didn’t hit the track until after lunch, when the light is rubbish down at that part of the track, I flip-flopped the plan of attack between Thursday and Friday.

I caught the lunchtime media shuttle on the track to the top of the Mountain for the Toyota 86 session, then took in the opening Supercars session from McPhillamy to the Cutting, where images were filed from the field, before backtracking for the Super2s to McPhillamy and the waiting media shuttle.

I filed those pics en route back to the media centre, published the Thursday gallery, and then headed to the outside of Hell Corner for the second Supercars practice.

There, a rather unhelpful marshal wouldn’t allow us behind the catch fence into our normal position at turn one, which was a mild annoyance, so I worked my way back to the outside of Murray’s.

With the late running on track completed, the Notebook was filed alongside other content.

We didn’t leave until after sunset, with pizza at home the meal of choice as we all worked away to a 10pm bedtime.


Friday, October 6, 2023

5,877 photos, 20,664 steps, 14.05km walked, at track 5:36am – 6:20pm

Woke up way too early at 3:30am, but I managed to bowl over an hour and a half of work, which in hindsight, was pretty helpful in the overall scheme of things.

Supercars pitstop practice was followed by a shuttle to the top, however, when we tried to sneak up the backroad past the tip to McPhillamy Park, our brilliant plan was thwarted by a locked gate.

So, we headed back down for a scenic lap of Bathurst, and a second attempt at entry via Barry Gurdon Drive, which dropped us off at Skyline in time for the end of the Toyota 86s.

I shot the Sports Sedans and Superutes from McPhillamy, filed gallery images, then took in the Super2/3 from Skyline to The Dipper, filed those pics from Forrest’s Elbow, then covered the Supercars from the Elbow to McPhillamy, filing those pics from the waiting media bus.

I then shot the main game autograph session, before heading to the outside of The Chase for Supercars practice 4.

Filed those pics and the Notebook, then caught up with the Astuti Nissan on the Super2/3 dummy grid, shot the grid, and then headed to turn one for the race start.

From there, I worked my way back to Murray’s Corner, before returning to the media centre briefly, catching a photo with Garry Wilkinson, filing, and heading back to the inside of the Chase for Supercars qualifying.

The original plan was to shoot this from Murray’s and the pits, but with the prospect of significant action as the cars battled through the kink in the Chase, that option found favour.

However, as it transpired, everyone crashed well in advance of getting to The Chase…

I filed the end-of-day content and headed off to Reckless Brewing for a repeat of Wednesday’s dinner.

And it was delicious.


Saturday, October 7, 2023

5,878 photos, 23,942 steps, 16.28km walked, at track 5:48am – 7:00pm

Woke up at 3:50am, which gave me some time to catch up on work not attempted the previous evening.

When at the track, I cut a lap of pit lane, had a quick photoshoot with Valentino in the Super3 paddock, toured around the paddock campground to take in the sights, and then completed my standard Saturday morning adventure on foot up the middle of the circuit, looping back to Griffins Bend, before scaling the Mountain to take in the Cutting for the Superutes, Super2/3 qualifying, filing, and Supercars practice five.

Shot the start of the Sports Sedans from Griffins before heading back to the pits for the Dunlop series autograph session and filing, including the final Notebook for the week.

Shot the Legends hot laps from the inside of Murray’s, then the Supercars final practice from the same location, the roof of the pits, and then up to the inside of Hell Corner via the various pit bays.

Filed in the media centre, then caught the Porsches from the inside of Murray’s Corner, the Super2/3 dummy grid and grid proper, taking in the start from the outside of Murray’s and working my way back up to the outside of Chase.

Filed those pics from the shade of the Rydges Hotel, before finally crossing the track to the inside of the Chase, where I covered the shootout from the Kink in The Chase back to the inside of Murray’s.

Filed, then snuck off for a steak at The Railway Hotel.


Sunday, October 8, 2023

9,135 photos, 20,544 steps, 13.97km walked, at track 5:26am – 7:10pm

Oscar Piastri managed some good things in F1, so I was able to bowl over a large portion of the Carsales F1 report on Sunday morning, before heading out for a lap of the pits, shooting the Superutes from the inside of Hell Corner.

Cut another lap back through the pit lane and shot the warm-up from the top of the garage complex.

Filed, then took in the driver’s parade from my standard position at pit in, before heading back to the media centre to clean up the first portion of the day, including the first of three galleries.

Caught the second Legends hot laps from the inside of Murray’s, before recombobulating myself for the first half of the race, which started on the grid, which, with a sea of humanity, is a total cluster.

The start was captured from the end of the turn-one escape road, before heading back down the track clockwise, to spend the bulk of the first 50 laps around the Chase, which proved most entertaining.

Managed to jag a bite to eat when Kevin Estre fenced himself, before finally heading back to the media centre at around lap 60 to file the first half content, including the second gallery.

The second half of the race started on the inside of Murray’s, the roof of the pits, a lap of the pit bunkers, the inside of Hell Corner, and another lap of the pits.

After filing, I still had some time up my sleeve, and with drama unfolding back at the other end of the pits, I managed to catch a rather despondent Broc Feeney, and I uploaded that content before heading down to the pit wall for the finish and podium.

I somehow managed to win the race of the photographers back into the media centre to file, including the third gallery, before making a relatively swift getaway to our traditional post-race debrief and bullshit-telling session at the Great Wall restaurant at 7:30pm.

After that, I polished off the Carsales Bathurst report by 10:27pm, and hit the hay.


Monday, October 9, 2023

0 photos, 2,708 steps, 1.84km walked

Up at 4:00am and on the road at 4:09am, a bit earlier than last year, which solved the issue of slow-moving caravans on the road to Cowra, with the audio of the F1 race for company.

The drive home was somewhat more convoluted with petrol, Maccas breakfast and Carsales F1 reporting in Gundagai completed by 7:37am.

After a much more stress-free drive home, I rolled into the garage at 12:59pm, some 38min slower than the adventure north to Bathurst.

Absolutely shattered, all attention now turns to when we can do it all again…

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