Bathurst, 2004

Motorbike trouble Friday, so I took a train to Lithgow, bus to Bathurst and Robert, brother-in-law since 1980, picked me up, I grabbed a case of Cascade and we drove to the encampment where he and his mates were set up. They’d been doing this for awhile, well practiced.


Saturday morning, took a bus to the top of the track and a bloke with an esky said “You wanna beer mate?” Sure, and I kept one nearby until about 0500 the next day. I sat in a precarious position over the dipper and enjoyed the historic touring cars. Big block Camaros, Jaguar S-types, Toranas, Falcons, a glorious cornucopia of sights and sounds.


The Historics was the only class I was really interested in so I made my way back to the encampment. Had a Cascade or three. 38 years young, been doing a lot of landscaping work, wearing this T-shirt and weighing 45lbs less than I do now.





The crowd was 99% blokes. Maybe it was the sight of the curvaceous manga babe that inspired the bald toothless goon to yell “Come here ya f****** t**********, I’ll f*** your f****** arse!” Unaware that the encampment included a few current and ex-cops and military and fireys, but not alone in his attitude and expressing his intentions.


Election day, wandered into town for my democratic duty (vote for the one most likely to come last.) Ate a big lunch, had a beer in the pub that Greg, my best friend, lived in during the late ’60s when his parents ran it, I had another beer…


Way past midnight, I was in the pub nearest the track talking with a young Aboriginal woman with beautiful green eyes, I complimented her and was suddenly surrounded by a few young Aboriginal men who were not in the mood for compliments.


Instinct kicked in, I walked back to the track. Bit of a glow in the east, grabbed a coffee. Fans were up, staking out their spots along Pit Straight. Did a survey.


Knowing the rules, the engines, the suspension, I asked people “Ford or Holden? What engine are they running?” No one knew. They all seemed to be living in the Group C era, when the race cars had carburettors and were hot versions of the cars in the showroom. I wandered back to the encampment and chewed the fat. One of the blokes later told me that I fell asleep in the middle of a (doubtless erudite) sentence. I awoke in time for the last few laps.


V8 Supercars is the dullest of motorsports. Today they’re racing ‘Mustangs’ that look more like the Falcon racers. It’s like watching taxis – except that real taxis would make for a more entertaining race. The rule of standards dictates every car have the same basic engine, suspension, steering, weight; pit-stop strategies are the most influential details. Safety cars make the race more a series of sprints rather than a genuine long distance race.


Remember watching Alan Moffat punching his Falcon hardtop up Mountain Straight, passing Datsun 1200s and the truck labouring up the hill to collect a crashed Triumph?


Bikers are rumoured to be bad. I’ve been to a lot of motorcycle race meets, from Moto GP to club racing and never once noticed anything remotely like that shit at Bathurst. Most of the crowd ride there, they’ve a clue about the racing, the mechanicals, they’re good humoured. Three of ten are women and they know what they’re talking about.



Perky Girl at Phillip Island Historics

Whoever the hell it is who runs this V8 Supercars crap oughta take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves if they might have killed the goose. Or if it just expired of natural causes.



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About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. With you all the way, Earl, very well written too, I watched about 5 minutes of that crap on Sunday. Some old Commodes, some newer ones with the Euro body shell, some Mustangs and nothing else. Who cares any more? Supposed equalisation by rules, how come one bloke wins 80% of races? Worse than Formula 1.

    Back to the good old days with 5 classes, A to E, blokes in HO’s or E49″s trying to pass a Mini or Datto 1600. Even the odd Mazda rotary… Wished I had made the pilgrimage to Bathurst back when, but too hard from Adelaide, or Alice Springs. At least in the bikes more than one has a chance of winning and the pure guts on display is extraordinary. But I reckon it ain’t coming back any time soon, so best stick to the historics, as you have done. Well done.

  2. Remembrance of things pissed. Spot on Earl. Never a rev-head but my best mate was. Watching Bathurst non-stop was an annual ritual. Mechanics with asbestos gloves removing glowing brake pads with fire tongs. Men were men and women weren’t that stupid back then. Obligatory early lap shunts and a couple of end-over-ends down the side of the mountain at the top. (Bill Brown rings a bell).
    Never recovered from losing Hardie Ferodo and the metric distance killed it off. My mate always threatened to drive over from Adelaide for the “long” weekend. We never did and I still have the brain cells to prove it.
    Used to always be the weekend after the AFL GF. Sobered up in time for the Caulfield Cup. Cheers.
    P.S. Love the shiny duco on PG.

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