A new book celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Bathurst 1000 has been launched ahead of this year’s Supercars endurance events.
Bathurst: 60 years of the great race by Steve Normoyle follows the iconic race after it moved from Phillip Island in 1963 to Mount Panorama, taking readers on a journey as the October Classic became Australia’s premier motor race.
Each of those first 60 years is captured in this new publication through stunning photos and moving anecdotes.
From those early years, when cars like the Mini Cooper and Ford Cortina GT500 – Bathurst’s first homologation special – made their mark, racing entered its V8 era which continues today with the arrival of the Falcon XR GT in 1967.
Then came the switch from 500 miles to 1000 metric kilometers after a young Peter Brock’s last solo victory in 1972, when a track 211km west of Sydney became the battleground of the local car industry, a showcase for every manufacturer’s wares.
Holden and Ford heavyweights have battled it out on the legendary circuit with names such as Colin Bond, Bob Jane, Allan Moffat, Jim Richards, Larry Perkins and John Harvey featured – and cars like the Valiant Charger looking to upend their dominance and come so close.
Then there’s the legend of The Rock – the emergence of a certain Dick Johnson – before the switch to Group A which saw a Jaguar win as the race went international; Allan Grice completed the first lap at 160 km/h; and the 1987 World Touring Car Championship – the first with the new ‘Caltex Chase’ addition to Conrod Straight – a standout for its controversy in what became Brock’s final, slippery victory.
The Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R was a game changer when it took the lead threatening the establishment in 1990 as a sign of things to come – much like the 1993 rule set that became Supercars – with a stunning debut from ‘The Kid’ Craig Lowndes the following year.
There was heartbreak for Glenn Seton in 1995, and a decade that saw Perkins claim three stunning wins and Brock retire.
Bathurst: 60 years of the great race will then take you to the 2000s, and a new team – Triple Eight Racing – emerging alongside Tickford, with Lowndes’ triple-hit and Jamie Whincup the first ‘non-Brock’ triple-hit, before names such as Greg Murphy, Rick Kelly and Chaz Mostert carved their names into what is now the Peter Brock Trophy.
Then there’s the Gen2 Mustang era, where a Kiwi named Scott McLaughlin fulfilled Bathurst’s dream, before Holden’s emotional farewell with success from Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander.
Bathurst: 60 years of the great race shows that Bathurst is more than a race, evoking the memories – good and bad – across six decades of a competition that changes the winner’s life for good. A run that saw last-to-first victories, fairytale endings (Lowndes in 2006) and endless rivalry and controversy – from disqualified European entries in 1987 to ignoring team orders to stop for refueling.
With over 300 color photos of motorsport stars and the classic Gelding Street Press design, this is a book any Aussie with petrol in their veins should have on their bookshelf.
Steve Normoyle is currently the editor of the Bathurst Motoring and Racing Bible Australian Muscle Car Magazine. He is a lifelong motorsport enthusiast with over 40 years of experience as an automotive and motorsports journalist.
He becomes editor-in-chief of Motor racing Australia And Motorsport News magazines, and he compiled most of the Australian Touring Car Championship racing programs during the 1990s and 2000s.
He is one of Australia’s foremost motorsport historians and has reported on the Bathurst 1000 for over three decades.
This copy below is an edited extract from Bathurst: 60 years of the great race by Steve Normoyle (Gelding Street Press $39.99), available at Big W and all good bookstores.
Group A turbo cars were consigned to history.
After much debate over the future direction of Australian touring car racing, the 5.0-litre V8-only era between Holden and Ford had arrived. The new V8s proved an immediate success, and the Falcon’s return to racing couldn’t have gone better for Ford – there were only four new Falcons in the field, but they finished first, second, third and fifth in the championship.
However, that kind of dominance led to a performance parity adjustment before Bathurst, which saw the Commodores go to the Mountain with increased forward downforce. It made the difference – and it was a bit of a stretch – and when the Ford Challenge fell apart it became a battle between Gibson Motorsport and Larry Perkins Holdens. It was Perkins and his co-driver Gregg Hansford who won.
Making the win all the sweeter was the fact that they did it with the trusty Holden V8 instead of the controversial new Chev that most Holdens used.