Being woken up by the sound of a screaming V10 isn’t a bad way to start the day. That’s how a typical day starts at the Bathurst 12 hour. I slowly exit my tent, feeling a little dusty from the night before, and head towards the communal toilet block as do many others around the camp ground. As I get closer to the building, an older man comes running out and proceeds to bring up last nights refreshments. He’s too distracted to realise he’s standing on a bull ants nest and I start chuckling. He finishes and looks up at me with glassy eyes that look like they had almost been ejected from his sockets and says with a thick Australian accent “Geez it smells bad in there!” He’s just one of the many diverse characters on the mountain.
I went to the Bathurst 1,000 about 15 years ago and it was an amazingly fun experience. Words like anarchy, lawless, explosive, scary, bogan, hilarious come to mind. It was a blast and I was glad I went but I don’t really need to do it again.
Memories of the 2005 Bathurst 1,000
The Bathurst 12 hour on the other hand is a much more family friendly environment, even on top of the mountain. There are people from all walks of life, from people like old mate above to Porsche Wankers that prefer to sip on red wine from their “polycarbonate drinking vessel”. There are kids running through the camp site having the time of their lives and even a few ladies up there, most of whom have been dragged along by their partners, but still enjoying the fun and friendly atmosphere.
Camping is the best way to get the most out of the event as you’re only a couple hundred metres from the track. Most people stay in tents but some prefer to sleep in the back of their cars or hire a camper van. The top of the mountain provides amazing views of the Bathurst region from the campsite. Trackside, you can get a great view of the lower section of the track and the Bathurst township below. I wouldn’t call the nights wild but there’s certainly plenty of fun going on up the top. The paddock camp ground is a lot more sedate and cleaner with paved roads, green grass and nicer amenities. You’re also right in the action with only a short walk to the pit garages and some great food vendors to keep you nourished.
One of the great things about the 12 hour is how close you can get to the cars and teams. The GT3s fill the garages along pit lane and allow for viewing from the back of the garages. The support category garages allow you to get right up close to the cars and also chat to the drivers and support crew. It’s a great way to admire some amazing machinery and get an insight into what’s happening behind the scenes on race day.
The event hosts a good variety of support categories, meaning there’s on track action for most of the day. Radicals and Formula Ford were there to wet the appetite of the open wheeler fans. Sports sedans were a great mix of cars including ex V8 Supercars, Japanese rockets, TA2 Muscle Cars, Group C touring cars and many more. Group S was a crowd favourite with sports cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s including Mustangs, Porsches, Corvettes, Alfas, Datsuns, Panteras, and MGs. The sights and sounds of these beautiful machines had everyone smiling.
The main even though is the GT3s which would have to be my favourite motorsport category at the moment. The speed, the beauty, and the amazing unique sounds that each car puts out always leaves me blown away. There were about 10 different manufacturers, all in with a chance of victory. The Bathurst 12 hour seems to make a habit of close finishes and this year didn’t disappoint with the race going down to the wire. For us crazy Porsche enthusiasts, the event was made even better with Porsche taking its first victory at the mountain. Lets just say we were a little excited!
So that’s a little bit on what the Bathurst 12 hour is all about. I can’t recommend it enough as it’s such a great event. Get a bunch of mates together or take the family. If you’ve been thinking about it, just get up there and do it.