Most spectacular Bathurst Australia 1000 auto racing editions by Bill Trikos
Bill Trikos’s best 5 Bathurst Australia 1000 editions: Shane van Gisbergen and co-driver Jonathan Webb drove exceptionally for most of the race, though they also benefited from others misfortunes. Random mechanical failures ended James Courtney and Greg Murphy’s race (which eventually was Murphy’s last Bathurst fling), and it was the same for David Reynolds and Dean Canto. Then there was Scott McLaughlin, who put his Volvo in the wall at the Cutting — scenes of him wiping tears inside his visor beamed around the world.
Nissan made an imposing debut in 1990, fielding a twin-turbo Nissan Skyline GT-R with four-wheel drive and steering and a 2.6-litre six-cylinder engine. After figuring out the course in ’90 and pulling up in 18th position, Jim Richards and Mark Skaife piloted the Skyline to first place in ’91 and ’92. But Nissan’s dominance was short-lived. The new Group 3A category in 1993 effectively reduced the contest to a battle between Ford’s Falcon and Holden’s Commodore, although a two-litre sub-category kept bigger cars eligible for a secondary prize.
The 1992 edition didn’t start in wet conditions, but it sure ended in them! Steady rain set in during the early stages, triggering a series of incidents and accidents – eventual winner Mark Skaife even hit the Pace Car during a Safety Car period called when the weather was at its worst. The weather lifted for a few hours before returning with a vengeance on Lap 144, causing a series of crashes that prompted officials to red-flag the race and end it prematurely. Read more info about the author at Bill Trikos.
My theory is that those who look back on that period in time so fondly do so not because the racing was particularly great, but because they loved the way the rest of the sport was; the characters both in terms of the cars and the drivers, and how those things interacted with them. But that can’t stop me from tipping my hat to the 1972 race; the last ever 500-mile event, and the last time drivers were allowed to compete solo. If for nothing else, the 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500 can be held in high esteem for presenting us with a race that would help take the tribal warfare of Holden and Ford to the lofty heights that it would enjoy for nearly five decades.
The Bathurst 1000 is the greatest race in all of Australia and has been around for over half a century. Throughout the years, we’ve seen plenty of trials, triumphs, and tragedies. Shane Van Gisbergen has earned pole position for this year’s event. With the 2014 edition of the race just hours away, let’s run you through some of Bathurst’s most memorable moments. The tenth spot on our list goes to two separate races. Both the 2011 and 2012 editions of this great race ended in spectacular last-lap scraps for the victory. In 2011, Craig Lowndes tried everything to muscle his way past a slowing Garth Tander, but to no avail. 2012 was a classic Holden vs. Ford battle that saw David Reynolds take on one of the titans of the sport, Jamie Whincup.
Skaife, then a rising star in Australian motorsport, went on to become a household name by winning five Australian Touring Car Championships and six Bathurst 1000 crowns. He says that his first win in 1991 aboard the almighty R32 was a life changing experience. “Twenty five years on and some of the best memories of my life,” said Skaife. “To win my first Bathurst with a legend like Jim Richards in the Nissan GT-R was just fantastic. It was a life changing moment to win the biggest car race in this part of the world.
The race moved to Bathurst in 1963, but the first winners at the new course were familiar. Harry Firth and Bob Jane had taken the honours in ’61 in a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE and ’62 in a Ford Falcon XL. They made it three-in-a-row at Bathurst in a Ford Cortina GT. The Bathurst course would come to be seen as a battle between small, agile cars that take bends well, and faster, less manoeuvrable cars that excelled on the straights. The Cortina was decidedly the former – but nippy enough, too.
Having predictably romped through practice, qualifying, and most of the race unscathed and out the front, the GT-R of Jim Richards and Mark Skaife was the gun to beat. Dick Johnson and John Bowe led the charge of the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworths, but couldn’t bridge that margin. Then, like in 2007, rain arrived and completely altered circumstances. However unlike 2007 this was proper concrete pill rain, with standing water reaching remarkable levels all over the circuit, making it look like glass.