Insight Richard Craill March 28, 2024 (Comments off) (124)

Welcome to Bathurst’s Happiest Enduro..

HERE’S the thing about the Bathurst 6 Hour.

If the 12-Hour is the International Bathurst and the 1000 is the Big Bathurst, the 6-Hour is the lovable Bathurst.

I’d argue no major event in Australia has a paddock so amiable, so chilled and so content and excited to be there as the one assembled this weekend in the Mount Panorama garages.  

Yes there’s still a race to be won and yes on Sunday afternoon this race will display all of the same seriousness, intent and theatrics as the ones February or October delivers.

And yet now, as teams set up and prepare for the first track outing today, no paddock I’ve ever experienced at this place offers the same level of sheer just wanting to be here.

As the paddock worked in warm autumnal sunshine there was a joy to be found in the Bathurst 6 Hour paddock, a genuine feeling of excitement, of fun and of anticipation for being there.

It is a feeling lacking at other major events at this place and that’s not intended as a criticism.

The 12 Hour is probably my favorite car race in the world but it is an incredibly serious, high-level motorsport. Elite global drivers and major manufacturers are spending loads of cash to try and win.

Of course, the 1000 by its very nature is Australia’s most important car race. Per Capita it’s one of the most-watched motorsport events in the world and winning it elevates people to legend status in Australian sport.

They are both fantastic, both important and both worthy of everything they are. And while they are still fun per se, it’s proper business and properly intense and only in select moments is there a joy to be found in being there.

I hope the six hour never, ever gets to that level.

This event is the family outing once a year to go car racing, or the one chance for someone to compete in a Bathurst enduro – for some a bucket list experience.

It’s similar at the top end of town, too: Will Davison is on record as saying that he enjoys the race because he can hang out with close mate Tim Leahey and his family, who live in nearby Orange. The fact he gets to race a cool car at Mount Panorama is just a perk of a nice family vacay in country New South Wales.

We’re fortunate enough to stay at Rydges this weekend and last night at the bar (an added perk of this event is that it still allows for such things to occur) we got to chatting with a dad and his son, both of whom had been in and around the sport for ever.

Racing at Bathurst had been on their bucket list and while the Dad doesn’t drive any more, the son does – so they got together with a team running a car in Class D and decided to enter the race this year.

Already on Thursday night they were having the time of their life. You could genuinely see it was something that would remain with them forever.

Tom Randle is here – you know, the piano-playing star of the recent Grand Prix. Here’s a professional racer who could have a weekend off and yet he’s decided he’d rather come and play with Ben and Michael Kavich because it’s enjoyable and he loves a weekend racing with the two brothers from Sydney.

And they feel the same way about having a young Pro like Tom alongside them, pushing them along in what is, for two extremely hard working businessmen, one of their only weekends away from regular life each year.

There’s the team in one of the lower classes who, en-route to the circuit, bought an identical road going version of the car they’re racing to ensure they had all the parts needed if they strike issues.

For $3500 they got a car in good nick, with 11 months rego remaining and they tell me that, assuming it remains relatively un-cannibalized, it’s already been on-sold to a new owner on Monday. It’s the kind of cash-neutral motorsport Supercars teams would dream of!

These are stories that can’t be told at the 1000.

And that’s fine – that race is special in its own way.

But thank God the six hour exists to continue that glorious Bathurst tradition of endurance racing here being, in its own funny way, somewhat democratic.

A car race for more.

You know, I designed the promo ads for this weekend but the more I think about it the more I think I got it wrong.

We’ve been calling it ‘Bathurst’s Biggest Enduro’ which statistically, it is.

And yet I think a far, far more powerful selling point is this:

The Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour – Bathurst’s Happiest Enduro.

More than anything, that tagline makes me want to come back again and again.

Meme supplied by a TRT reader with conspicuously good timing.

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