V8 Supercars: What on earth is the Bathurst 1000

On Thursday, what is seen as the one of the world’s greatest races will kick off its race weekend in Bathurst, New south Wales. But ‘what on earth is it?’, you may ask, SportsByte explains.

Credit: Visit NSW

What is it?

Credit: Supercars

The Bathurst 1000 is one of the world’s greatest touring car races. It started in 1963 and has grown to become one of Australia’s biggest sporting events alongwith the AFL grand final and the Ashes. The race is run on the Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst NSW – which is known to have the same challenge as the Nürburgring and Le Mans.

The challenge of Bathurst is that it is a 6-hour race split between two drivers per car on a track that is planted on mountain. In comparison to the elevation of the Nürburgring and the tightness of Monaco, for example, if you make a minor mistake through the infamous Forrest elbow you are instantly in the wall it is that tough of a place to race at ! This therefore is why it has the same aura as races like the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24hr.

What cars are used ?

Credit: Supercars

While the cars have traditionally been based on the Aussie version of off-the-shelf cars such as Ford Falcons (sold in the UK as Mondeo’s) and Holden Commodores (sold in the UK as Vauxhall VXR’s).

These days, the cars are based on more upmarket models such as the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro. They use V8s which are limited to 600 BHP and run on Dunlop tyres. The cars are designed to be very raw and analogue which makes for some very close and exciting racing – especially on the mountain when one mistake can destroy all hope due to the speed and difficulty of the track.

How does the weekend work?

Due to the complexity of the track, there are 6 practice sessions between Thursday and Saturday with some being reserved for the second drivers who don’t run the full season. These are followed by qualifying which is a 60-minute session to decide the grid up to the top 10, who then do a one lap each shoot-out to decide who gets the pole.

This is seen as one of the highlights of the weekend as one driver per pair takes on the circuit at full push. To get the essence of why it’s special we have included the 2021 shoot-out Pole lap (2022 was cancelled due to weather during the main Qualifying) below which is the fastest lap in Bathurst history.

This then followed by the 1000KM race which usually takes place among a sold-out crowd. It is the perfect balance of action and endurance with the need to push every lap while ensuring you can do the distance on the least pit stops.

The conundrum has led to some of the greatest finishes in the history of motorsport, such as in 2014 when Chaz Mostert came back from being almost out of the race due to damage, to being able to win the race on the last lap by pushing legend Jamie Whincup to use too much fuel and overtaking him.

This is also known as one of the greatest comebacks and overall races of all time. It is impossible to explain why the race is so good, So we have included a link to a video explaining why the race was so good below.

What do they race for?

Credit: Supercars

The drivers race for the Peter Brock trophy which is named after nine times champion Peter Brock who died in 2006 and is known as the King of the Mountain and is seen as the Supercars version of the World Cup in terms of it’s the one everyone wants to win.

What is the main rivalry?

A sign bearing the GM Holden Ltd. logo stands at the company’s headquarters in Melbourne, Australia, on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. General Motors Co.’s Holden unit, Australia’s largest carmaker, said it would shutter production lines in 2017 after 69 years, joining Ford Motor Co. in exiting an economy struggling with high costs and a strong currency. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

The main rivalry is the Holden (now Chevy) V Ford fans which is on the same level as Newcastle V Sunderland in terms of diehard fans hating each other, and the rivalry creating trouble at past races. This originates from the early days of the race and Supercars as at the time most families and drivers either bought a Ford or a Holden and you were often stereotyped based on what you bought.

Who are the ones to watch?

Credit: Supercars

The main ones to watch this year are the Red Bull drivers (yes they do dominate here too) of Shane Van Gisbergen and Richie Stanway as Shane won the race twice in recent years and is set to start his final race this year before moving to NASCAR for 2024. Shane is also famous for becoming the first Rookie to win their first ever NASCAR race in Chicago earlier this year as well as being one of Supercars’s greatest ever talents.

Where can I watch it in the UK

If you are prepared to stay up through the night the race and qualifying is broadcast on TNT sports and the race coverage is scheduled to start at 12:45 pm on Saturday night and runs until 8 am on Sunday morning. This can also be streamed on Discovery+ for £30 a month and YouTube for a £5.99 fee.

Will you watch the race? Tweet us @Sports_Byte