Feature Mark Walker February 15, 2024 (Comments off) (193)

The Magic of Bathurst

Over the next two weekends, Mount Panorama Bathurst comes alive as the best racers from around the country and the world converge on the magical ribbon of bitumen.

Two-dimensional images on a screen can sometimes struggle to capture what makes this place so damn alluring.

If you have never been to Mount Panorama, you’ve got to add it to your bucket list – make it happen, especially if your visit is away from a race weekend, when you can cut laps in your road car, albeit to the signposted speed limit.

On foot, you can pick up even more of the nuances that make the place rate so highly in the eyes of those who conquer.

Here we delve into some of the things that set this place apart.

Enjoy The Mountain, and enjoy the racing.

THE famous Mount Panorama sign, created by painting tiny rocks across a long stretch of hillside.

A favourite road trip game is to be the first participant to spot the sign on the drive into town.

Guaranteed to send a shiver down the spine of the most hardened racer.

Drivers will put it all on the line to claim this prized piece of real estate.

However, where you start an enduro at Bathurst doesn’t really count much towards the end result…

MOUNT Panorama is a street circuit like no other, with the road open between events, not only as a tourist drive, but also for access to the many local residents and businesses that line the 6.12km track.

Access during events has always been difficult, although vehicular passage to the infield was opened up by the construction of The Chase Tunnel in 1994.

Fast forward to the logistical nightmare of the Bathurst 24 Hour in 2002, and event organisers were forced to implement a raft of access options for those whose only previous avenue to the outside world was via the racing surface.

A full network of sealed tracks on the infield, as well as to properties positioned on driver’s right up Mountain Straight, were carved into the landscape.

The above street sign sits on one of these access roads, positioned neatly halfway between Mountain and Conrod Straights.

JUST quietly, the wine from this part of the universe is pretty bloody good.

Sitting on the inside of the circuit to the driver’s left at Griffins Bend is Mount Panorama Estate Vineyard, well worth a visit, if only to refuel before the climb to the top of the Hill.

A VIEW you don’t often get, and one that really puts into perspective the peril Marcos Ambrose found himself in back in 2005 – that is one long fall to the bottom, and ultimately someone’s backyard.

It’s also worth noting, the complete and utter lack of escape options for any flaggies or TV camera folk positioned here.

THE hardest part of the climb is almost done, but there is still some elevation to conquer before gravity becomes your friend again.

THIS vista presents itself on the run out of the cutting, but don’t look now, or you will be in the fence.

McPHILLAMY Park might be one of the fastest corners on the track, but it is much tighter than a mere kink in the road.

For those with an eagle eye, have a gander on the backside of the wall for old “Camel Filters” advertising, that is, before it finally fades into nothing.

SKYLINE might go without saying, but the name simply doesn’t do this length of track any justice.

THIS view would be cracking anywhere, let alone on a race track.

Hot tip: aim at the tree, but don’t hit the tree.

Please and thank you.

MEANWHILE this length of track brought Chaz Mostert unstuck in 2015, and it’s easy to see why.

Room for error: it’s just not there.

THE winery on Mountain Straight has a mate on Conrod: this fig orchid.

THE roller coaster of Conrod Straight is ironed out on TV – this view demonstrates that the first hump is a significant one.

A lot of faith is put in the flag marshal stand on the right that they are on top of their game as cars crest the blind rise at terminal velocity.

THE kink in the Chase may be easy flat in a modern GT3 or Supercar, but there’s some meaningful elevation to contend with on this 400 meter deviation from the original layout.

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