Bathurst 1000: 23 facts you might or might not know

The Bathurst 1000 is known in Australia as The Great Race and it’s about to happen all over again today. So, here are some facts and figures you might or might not know about the race, it’s history and the town which lends it its name.

Feeling woozy
Feeling woozy

Elevation change: 174m between pit straight and the track's highest point on Mount Panorama.

That's quite a bit. For most race tracks the elevation change is measured in single digits.

Image credit: Via Charles Bayer


Bathurst: people live here
Bathurst: people live here

Well not here specifically (that's the Bathurst City Courthouse, by the way).

33,000 call Bathurst city home, while around 39,000 live in the local government area.

During a race weekend that population probably doubles, with between 40,000 and 50,000 at the track each day.

Image credit: Via Bathurst Taxi


The dude himself
The dude himself

Bathurst was established by the British in 1815 and named after the then Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Lord Henry Bathurst, the 3rd Earl Bathurst.

There's a Bathurst Island and Bathurst city in Canada (many, many, many miles apart), as well as a Bathurst town in South Africa.

Image credit: William Salter via National Portrait Gallery (UK)


Racecam for the world
Racecam for the world

Gas-guzzling V8 engines and large family sedans, it's not exactly the epitome of high tech.

But the 1979 race was right on the bleeding edge with Channel 7 debuting Racecam, the first use of an in-car camera streaming live to air.

In the early generations of Racecam, sound and video sent from the cars below to a tracking helicopter above, which would relay the images to outside broadcast centre.

Prior to this moment motorsports television was all about long aerial shots, car whizzing by and some pit lane action.

Image credit: Network Seven via Motorsport Retro


Dick Johnson commentates live-to-air while driving
Dick Johnson commentates live-to-air while driving

Instead of the 36 camera angles we see today from almost every race car back in the early 1980s there were only a few in-car cameras, often large bulky things mounted where a passenger's seat would be or inside an headlight casing.

For 1984 Channel 7 had a large broadcast camera in Dick Johnson's Ford Falcon. The camera was remotely controlled and could pivot to focus on Dick or peer out the windscreen in front.

Unlike today's V8 Supercars, cars from this era still had their complement of seats, simple bracing instead of a complete roll cage and sheepskin seat covers!

Image credit: Via Motorsport Retro


In memorium
In memorium

15 competitors have passed away whilst racing on the Mount Panorama circuit, three of them during the Bathurst 1000: Mike Burgmann (1986), Denny Hulme (1992) and Don Watson (1996).

Additionally two spectators lost their lives when they were hit by debris during a race in 1955.

Image credit: Mount Panorama Racing Circuit


56 different winners
56 different winners

There are many reasons why Peter Brock is held in high regard. Winning the Bathurst 1000 nine times is one of them.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Tough day at the office
Tough day at the office

500 miles is a long distance, but two drivers, Allan Moffat (left) and Peter Brock (right), have won it driving solo.

Imagine driving at an average speed of 150km/h+ for that distance. Then add a winding circuit, blind leaps of faith and other drivers into the mix.

Image credit: Allan Moffat via HobbyCo; Peter Brock via 3 News


Two is better than one, right?
Two is better than one, right?

Since 1973 all entries are now required to have at least two drivers.

Image credit: Via Steve Johnson


Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Act shocked. C'mon try! Yep, an Aussie race has been won primarily by Aussies. And Kiwis.

In third place is Canada, all on the back of Allan Moffatt's heroics. Not that they'd know, or care, mind you.

Image credit: Derek Fung


It could've been oh so different
It could've been oh so different

The Armstrong 500, as it was known back then, was first raced in 1960 and held on Phillip Island in Victoria.

Due to the poor state of the track of the 1962 meet, the race was moved to Bathurst for '63.

Image credit: MotoGP via Motoblogn


What's 500 miles between friends?
What's 500 miles between friends?

In the olden days the race was called the Bathurst 500, as it was raced over 500 miles. That's a trifling 804.7km.

That's about distance from the centre of Sydney's CBD to the town of Kilmore, Victoria, that's about 70 or so kilometres outside of Melbourne metro.

Image credit: Derek Fung and Google Maps


Metrification at last
Metrification at last

Became the Bathurst 1000, and raced over 1,000km, in 1973.

Image credit: Network Seven via DickPlumberThe2nd on YouTube


It's a long way, baby
It's a long way, baby

Race length from start line to finish line is 1000.15km. That's equivalent to driving from Newcastle's CBD to the fringes of Melbourne.

Image credit: Derek Fung and Google Maps


Feel the serenity
Feel the serenity

Most of the year the track is actually a road that's open to the public. Just don't go over the speed limit as speed cameras and the police lie in wait.

Image credit: Google Maps Street View


All your records are belong to us
All your records are belong to us

All official Bathurst 1000 records include the three races held at Phillip Island.

In the shot above an Austin Lancer is seen competing in the first Armstrong 500 on Phillip Island, Victoria.

Image credit: Via Wikipedia


It's not going to change soon, or is it?
It's not going to change soon, or is it?

All up nine car companies have walked away with the title, with Holden (29 wins) and Ford (18) leading the pack by miles.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Another one for the red corner
Another one for the red corner

14 different car models have won the big prize. Again it's not too surprising to see that Commodore (22 wins) and Falcon (13) leads the rest of the field.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Four cylinders versus eight on different weekends
Four cylinders versus eight on different weekends

They also include the two competing 1,000km races held weeks apart in both 1997 and 1998. In those years the official Bathurst race was raced by 2-litre Super Tourers, while two weeks later the V8 Supercars championship held an "unofficial" race for themselves.

Image credit: Network Seven and Network Ten


Current Mount Panorama track layout
Current Mount Panorama track layout

The Bathurst circuit is currently 6.213km long.

Image credit: Via Wikipedia


A bit of math
A bit of math

But 6.213km times 161 laps is 1000.293km, you say. Yes, that's well spotted my dear padwan. The start line is 143m closer to the first corner to accommodate all the cars and to ensure only a few snake around the last corner.

Image credit: Via F1 Fanatic


That's hot
That's hot

As part of a publicity stunt for Vodafone and McLaren, F1's Jenson Button recorded the fastest lap ever on the circuit: 1:48.88. Unfortunately it's not an official race record, because there was no race. You can however watch the entire lap <a href="http://youtu.be/x4XVF3jJL5Q" target="_blank">on YouTube</a>.

That honour belongs to the 2:04.6187 set by Chris Gilmour in his Formula Three Dallara Mercedes-Benz.

The fastest ever lap by a V8 Supercar was a 2:06.8012 done by Craig Lowndes during practice for the 2010 race. The race record? A 2:08.4651 set by Jamie Whincup in a BF Ford Falcon in 2007.

Image credit: Via F1 Fanatic


Sponsor me this
Sponsor me this

Is it just us, but is it a little depressing that the longest running sponsors of the Bathurst 1000 is the company that built and lost its reputation on the back of mining and processing asbestos.

The runner up, until the completion of the 2013 race, is a beer. Perfect.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Derek Fung

Derek Fung

Derek has a lifelong love for all things automotive, from the dullest Camry to record shattering Bugattis. Prior to starting up Between the Axles he was a reviewer for CNET Australia and the founding editor of its Car Technology channel. [Read more]