Thursday, April 15, 2010
I drove the Bathurst 500 ..
Yer, I know, playing with words.
When I first went back into Bathurst NSW for a decent look (instead of a 'pass through') was surprised and delighted to discover that the now famous, almost iconic, Mount Panorama motor racing circuit was open to the public. Well, it's actually a two-lane public roadway - albeit slightly modified with concrete crash barriers - that services the houses, farmlets, even a winery, that are dotted along its length.
Am not a 'rev-head' per se, but have to admit that watching the V8 supercars rip, roar, whip and weave their way around the circuit on TV had a certain fascination and excitement. Names like 'Brock', 'Lowndes', 'Whincup'; seem to loom large in collective memory.
6.2 kilometers (3.8 miles) in length, it rises 174 metres (600 feet) fom pit lane up to McPhillamy Park; the steepest grade is 1:6 .. and the average lap speed is 167kph. Will also say that the TV coverage does not adequately convey the sheer guts, concentration and skill required to negotiate the narrow, twisting circuit as it winds up and down Mount Panorama.
Imagine waiting on the grid at pit lane - the lights go green. Within seconds, close-packed among all the other cars, having to throw the vehicle round a sharpish right-angle left turn (Hell Corner), settling into the longish 'Mountain Straight' that climbs up the side of the mountain; ease into a righthand bend, curve sharpish left through 'the cutting', then right, up past "Reid Park" to the top of the mount.
A short straight past Mcphillamy Park to what's called "Brock Skyline", where the road disappears sharply away in front of you giving a sudden, wide, panoramic view of the Bathurst plain (no time to enjoy, though) then into "the dipper"- downhill into a series of very quick, short, sharp "ess" bends - right, left, right, left - the hillside dropping steeply away on the lefthand side (scary) then round "Forrest's Elbow" into "Conrod Straight" for the downhill run back toward Pit Lane (there must have been a few too many who took the downhill run a smidge too fast, as a recent addition toward the end is "The chase" - a chicane to slow things down, slightly) - then either into the pit lane entry chicanes - or onto and around rightangled "Murray's Corner" into the shortish Pit Lane Straight .. to do it again, and again, and again.
If you look at the aerial pic, public entry is down at the bottom lefthand corner at Murray's corner - and, since am not an 'officianado' and there were no signs or indications as to which way to go, "kept left" and headed up the mountain .. until I was confronted by another car coming 'down' the mountain toward me.
'Uh Oh', think I, and did a "u-ey". Found out that although there is no "centreline" - the circuit (on non-race days) is actually "two way", cars can travel in both directions WITH, i hasten to add, a 60kph speed limit. Sort of interesting though, as one does tend to try to 'pick the best line' and drift over to the other side of the two lane track on the corners.
However, made it safely around ...twice! .. heh.
Aerial view of the track
(not by me - copied off the boards at the entrance)
Back end of the 'start' grid
>"top o' the mountain"
"the chase", near the end of Conrod Straight
"phew! made it; safe and sound" .. heh.