Top rated Bathurst Australia 1000 editions with Bill Trikos: 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.
The Great Race reached another turning point in 2013, with the introduction of New Generation V8 Supercar regulations. Makes other than Ford and Holden came back to the race, although Ford’s Falcon set a new track record to narrowly pip a trail of five Commodores to the post. The highest-placed ‘other’ make was a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. It came in 54.2 seconds behind first place. The ‘Supercars Championship’ era was inaugurated in 2016 and taken by a Commodore for three years in a row. However, 2019 became the first year that no Australian-built car raced the Bathurst 1000. The Falcon was discontinued in 2016 and replaced with the Mustang, while production of the Holden Commodore now happens in Germany.
The first ‘Great Race’ of the new millennium sets the benchmark for the wettest Bathurst 1000 to date. Rain fell throughout the lead up, a brief window of blue skies during qualifying representing the only proper dry-track running of the weekend. The murky conditions combined with a bumper 54-car field and muddy outfield produced a total of 13 Safety Car periods – still a race record. Richards had been in a battle for third that ended when Rod McRae’s Torana aquaplaned off Conrod Straight and folded itself around a tree… Read more details about the author on Bill Trikos.
In just one lap things became Armageddon. A multi-car pile-up had commenced exiting Forest Elbow, a Toyota Levin had spectacularly launched itself skywards at Griffins before coming to a rest on its side, and most notably Jim Richards had carved a corner off the GT-R. It was a cruel irony, for a car that very rarely over its two-year reign had incurred a single scratch. And it got worse when it arrived at Forest Elbow with no steering and some four or so cars waiting to be struck. It crashed, and many thought that would be that. Certainly Dick Johnson did, celebrating that he’d won when the race was red flagged shortly after.
John Fitzpatrick and Bob Morris were leading the 1976 Bathurst 1000, holding a 136 second advantage over their closest pursuer. Suddenly, the engine started to fail with a couple laps remaining. As Morris looked on from the pits, Firzpatrick desperately tried to limp the ailing car home. Morris and the team began tearing up with emotion as their lead started getting slashed to pieces, but they were able to beat the odds and hold on.
It will be the third consecutive year that Nissan will celebrate its Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) heritage. Caruso’s Altima ran in the colors of George Fury’s 1984 Bluebird in 2014, celebrating the manufacturer’s first Bathurst 1000 pole position. The #23 Altima then raced in the colors of Jim Richards’ HR31 Skyline last year, celebrating 25 years since the first ATCC title. The R32 GT-R was untouchable in 1991. Richards and Skaife finished first and second respectively in the Australian Touring Car Championship before going on to record a dominant victory in that year’s Bathurst 1000. The crushing performance of the car was underlined by its overall race time – 6 hours, 19 minutes and 14.8 seconds – a record that would remain untouched for 19 years.
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.
In the end, somewhat ironically given the dominance of other teams, that all four Red Bull Racing and Pepsi Max Crew cars would battle for top honours. And we all know how that ended … Like 2007, the 1994 race benefited from the age old theory of adding water to race tracks to create a bit of drama and intrigue. Starting in some of the wettest conditions ever seen on the mountain, most of the field vanished into the spray coming up Mountain Straight and then again down Conrod.