Mention the word ‘Bathurst’ to any Australian and most will instantly think about one motorsport event which occurs at an area called Mount Panorama, the Bathurst 1000. It has become the home for racing car fans and driving enthusiasts for decades.
Bathurst is a large regional city nestled on the western side of the Blue Mountains, about 200km west of Sydney. Students and educators will recognise the place as the home of Charles Sturt University, and gold enthusiasts will know the town due to its roots in the discovery of gold and as the first area where gold rush occurred in Australia.
But, in the backdrop, you’ll find some rather innocently-looking hills featuring giant white letters that spell out ‘Mount Panorama’. Draped over these hills is a racing circuit that also serves as a public road when racing isn’t on.
Some call it Australia’s Nurburgring due to its fairly extensive length (for a racing circuit) of 6.2km, while the steep hills, up and down, and exciting undulations sprinkled around the track make it very demanding on the car and driver. Similar to the Nurburgring in Germany.
Every year the Supercars Championship (previously called V8 Supercars) holds an event at the circuit called the Bathurst 1000. For the 2023 round 10 event, which is on this weekend, the battle is between Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.
Over the decades it has influenced fierce rivalry between the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore. Although, many other touring cars, drawing in international racing drivers, have taken part in the gruelling all-day race.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Bathurst 1000, and over the years it has created 59 ‘king of the mountain’ race winners. Peter Brock holds the record for the most Bathurst wins, with 9, followed by Jim Richards with 7 wins, and then Larry Perkins with 6.
As we kick off the 2023 Repco Bathurst 1000, Brodie Kostecki and David Russell start off the event from pole position in the Coca-Cola Chevrolet Camaro.
The circuit features 23 corners, and two long straights called Mountain Straight and the famous Conrod Straight. The latter is a strip of tarmac that spans 1.9km long, and features a nice dipper and thrilling rise just to keep drivers on their toes. There’s also a kink at the end called The Chase, which is not for the faint-heartened.
Although Supercars nudge 300km/h down Conrod, it’s still long enough for a regular sports car to get close to its top speed. For example, the Hyundai i30 N hits around 240km/h.
The race lap record for the circuit is 1:59.291, which was set by German driver Christopher Mies in an Audi R8 LMS GT3, during the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2018. In a regular road-going sports car, it takes around 2:30-2:50.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to tour the circuit when racing isn’t on, Bathurst is definitely worth visiting. Driving around, even at the 60km/h speed limit, it gives you an idea of how challenging and exciting this track is.
You’ll experience how steep the Esses are and the famous Dipper, and get an idea of just how long Conrod Straight is.
For an idea of what it’s like, check out our on-board lap video of yours truly taking a Hyundai i30 N around the circuit flat out, during a track day driving event with Evolve Driving.
The i30 N was completely standard only featuring the optional N Performance brake pads to boost longevity. It performed flawlessly, completing around 40 laps throughout the day without fault.