I haven’t written here for a few days, principally because I wasn’t here to write. A reasonable excuse, I reckon.
So where was I? It was that time of year, and what do I do at ‘that time of year’ every year? Bleat about not going to Bathurst for the crown jewel of Australian motorsport, the Supercheap Auto 1000, otherwise simply known by purists as ‘Bathurst’. Not this year though. Wednesday, October 6, I’m working away as usual, slaving over a cold & uncaring LCD computer screen, when Twitter tells me (yes, I tweet at work!) that Jason Bright had just posted a pic. I slip into Twitter for a look and there’s the Brad Jones Racing/Trading Post Team going for a track-walk around Mount Panorama.
I muttered sotto voce “Damn, I so wish I was there”. My boss replied, “Why don’t you go?” and and instantaneously my borderline OCD mind goes into overdrive thinking of all the rational excuses for my not going, again, this year.
- no tickets
- not organised enough
- car having its air-con checked tomorrow
- Can’t go alone (why I’ll never know)
- can’t just ‘up-and-go’
and thirty-or-so other excuses which flashed through my mind before Alex said, “Look on eBay. There’s bound to be tickets there”. Now, I don’t know about you, reader, but eBay is the last place I’d think of looking for tickets to a major motorsport event. I looked. There they were….grandstand tickets, general admission, general admission with paddock passes, 1 day, weekend, four day passes the whole shebang! Excuse #1 defeated. I call my wife. “Hey, Alex has just told me to go to Bathurst and there’s tickets on eBay” to which she practically replied, ‘so what?’ and then said, “Call your daughter. Megan would love to go”. I did. She was right. Megan would love to go, and “it’ll be fine, Dad. ROAD TRIP!” Long story short, I bought two four day with paddock pass tickets at $110 each – they were $153 each from Ticketek – had them couriered to Orange where I’d already been offered accommodation by a colleague earlier in the year, and bugger me dead, we were off to Bathurst the next morning!
Turns out the tickets came via a young man in Sydney who must have worked for Toll, which is the principal sponsor for the Holden factory team. Clearly the tickets were freebies and he wasn’t going to use them, so decided to make a buck & sell them. My benefit, his benefit and we made it to the Mountain for the first time since 1982. Long drive, in fact, too long for one day, with us staying overnight on Thursday in Gilgandra. Just too risky to travel those roads after sundown with all the wildlife around. But next day around 11:00 we rolled into Orange, dropped off bags, met our hosts, picked up the tickets & bolted for Bathurst.
The experience was everything I remembered it to be, and more, because the Mountain has changed in 28 years. It’s more commercial, less raucous, at least people-wise. The facilities are much, much better and the inhabitants well behaved. Of course, the over-whelming state and federal police presence helps in that area, but strangely doesn’t detract from the experience. The racing was, as always, fantastic. We’re going back next year but next time in a more controlled, organised manner. We’ll take a week or more, get there early & do the circuits Megan was denied this time. We may even do the camping thing because the facilities impressed me. It’s not as crude & savage as I expected it to be so a camping experience would really make the occasion. We’ll see, but I now know I just have to go back.
If you’re into motorsport and you’ve never made it to Bathurst, then take it from someone who has now been twice, 28 years apart. If you never-never go, you’ll never-never know.