Mount Panorama Circuit

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Mount Panorama
The Mountain
Mount Panorama Circuit Map Overview.PNG
Location Bathurst, New South Wales
Time zone GMT +10
Coordinates 33°26′51″S 149°33′23″E / 33.44750°S 149.55639°E / -33.44750; 149.55639Coordinates: 33°26′51″S 149°33′23″E / 33.44750°S 149.55639°E / -33.44750; 149.55639
Opened 17 April 1938
Major events Bathurst 1000
Bathurst 12 Hour
Aust. Touring Car Champ.
Australian Grand Prix
Australian motorcycle Grand Prix
Australian Tourist Trophy
Australian Drivers' Champ.
Current Circuit
Length 6.213 km (3.861 mi)
Turns 23
Lap record 2:02.6701 (Simon Hodge, Mygale M11 Mercedes-Benz, 2014, Australian Formula 3)
Original Circuit
Length 6.172 km (3.835 mi)
Turns 20
Lap record 2:09.7 (Niel Allen, McLaren M10B-Chevrolet, 1970, Formula 5000)
The public entrance to the Circuit at Murray's Corner

Mount Panorama, Motor Racing Circuit Bathurst (also known as Wahluu by the Wiradjuri people, or often simply Bathurst) is a motor racing track located in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. It is the home of the Bathurst 12 Hour motor race, held each February, and the Bathurst 1000 motor race, held each October. The track is 6.213 km (4 mi) long, and is technically a street circuit, as the circuit is a public road when no racing events are being run, and there are many residences which can only be accessed from the circuit.

The track is an unusual design by modern standards, with a 174 metre (570 foot) vertical difference between its highest and lowest points, and grades as steep as 1:6.13. From the start-finish line, the track can be viewed in three sections; the short pit straight and then a tight left turn into the long, steep Mountain straight; the tight, narrow section across the top of the mountain itself; and then the long, downhill section of Conrod Straight, with the very fast Chase and the turn back onto pit straight to complete the lap.

Historically, the racetrack has been used for a wide variety of racing categories, including everything from open-wheel racers to motorcycles. However, the factors that make the track so unusual, and tighter contemporary safety standards, make it unlikely that major race meetings in these categories will be held there again, and as such it has become the near-exclusive province of closed-bodied automobile racing cars.

As a public road, on non-race days and when it is not closed off during the day as part of a racing event, Mount Panorama is open to the public. Cars can drive in both directions around the circuit for no charge. However, a strict speed limit of 60 km/h (37 mph) is enforced, and police regularly patrol the circuit.

The Circuit[edit]

The Mount Panorama circuit is known[by whom?] as one of the most fearsome circuits in the World. It also has the fastest corner in touring car racing,[citation needed] in turn 20 (the Chase). French sportscar driver Alexandre Premat, who later raced as a V8 Supercar regular, once described the circuit as "A mix of the (Nürburgring) Nordschleife, Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca". German Maro Engel also described the circuit as the "Blue Hell", as a play on the Nurburgring's nickname "Green Hell".

The Pit Straight[edit]

The Pit straight of Mount Panorama, which is adjacent to the pit complex, has a different start line and finish line. For the standing start only, the start line is 143 m closer to Hell Corner so that all the pit bays are located after the finish line for lap counting purposes. The start line is located where it is so that traffic does not go too far around Murray's Corner when the start grid is formed.

Hell Corner[edit]

The common misperception of nomenclature due to the accidents that happen at this turn are widespread. Hell Corner was so named after the tree stump that existed on the apex of turn one, it was believed that any motor bike riders who hit the stump would die in an act of folly and thereby be doomed to an eternity of death.

Mountain Straight[edit]

Mountain Straight is a long straight that begins the climb up the mountain towards Griffins Bend. V8 Supercars reach speeds up to 250 km/h (155 mph) as drivers race over the crest immediately prior to braking for Griffins Bend. In the days before modern aerodynamics, drivers would have to lift off the throttle to prevent becoming airborne over the crest halfway up the straight.

Griffins Bend[edit]

Also known as GTX Bend (the corner's first sponsor), Griffins Bend was named after the Mayor of Bathurst whose vision it was to create the scenic road/race-track. Drivers heading around this right-hander have to be careful not to drift too far out of this negatively-cambered turn and hit the wall upon exit. Allan Moffat spun his Ford XA Falcon GT Hardtop here in 1973, narrowly being missed by a couple of Mini's he had just passed going up Mountain Straight.

The Cutting[edit]

Referred to for many years as "BP Cutting", this is a pair of left hand corners, leading into a steep 1:6 grade exit. Overtaking is virtually impossible here, and it is very hard to recover from a spin here because of the narrow room and steep gradient. This corner was the location of the infamous 'race rage' incident between Marcos Ambrose and Greg Murphy, after Murphy and Ambrose collided when both drivers refused to give the other "racing room" during the 2005 Supercheap Auto 1000, Ambrose's last before he moved to the United States for racing.

Reid Park[edit]

After exiting the Cutting, drivers have a right hand turn, heading up, then into a left hand turn. This is Reid Park. Reid Park is named after the Bathurst City Engineer Hughie Reid, who re-designed sections of the track to be more suitable for Motor Racing. One of the most famous incidents in the history of the Bathurst 1000 occurred here when Dick Johnson crashed his Ford XD Falcon out of the lead on lap 18 of the 1980 Hardie-Ferodo 1000. Johnson was unable to avoid a large rock that had fallen from the spectator area as he was passing a quick-lift tow truck at the time and had no where else to go. The car was destroyed, taking with it Johnson's means of supporting his racing ambitions. An emotional public appeal followed during the race's telecast which re-launched Johnson's career.

Sulman Park[edit]

After Reid Park, drivers brave a steep drop, flowing into a climbing left hand turn, heading back towards the highest point of Mount Panorama. This is also the location of Sulman Park and its Nature Park. Jason Bright crashed here in his Ford Falcon in practice during the 1998 FAI 1000, then saw the car rebuilt in time to scrape into qualifying in the dying minutes before Bright and Steven Richards went on to victory. This corner was also the scene of a crash in a support race in 2006 that claimed the life of Mark Porter.

McPhillamy Park[edit]

McPhillamy Park is a downhill, deceptively fast left hand turn which is guarded by a crest prior to turn-in, rendering the corner blind to approaching drivers. Drivers have to stay close to the wall while turning so as not to go out wide upon exit. To go too close, however, may cause the car to clip the inside kerbing, which Allan Moffat famously did in practice for the 1986 James Hardie 1000, crashing the Holden Commodore he shared with long time rival Peter Brock head on to the concrete. McPhillamy Park is the location of the longest-running campsite for those who camp at the track (sometimes for over a week in advance of a race). The park was named after Walter J. McPhillamy, a previous mayor of the Bathurst City Council and the owner of most of the land occupied by the Bald Hills which was donated.

McPhillamy was the site of Bill Brown's fearsome rollover during the 1971 Hardie-Ferodo 500 when the front right tyre on his Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III blew at over 100 mph (161 km/h), sending Brown up an earth bank before barrel-rolling along the fence. A pair of marshals stationed at the point were lucky to escape being hit after taking evasive action. Amazingly, Brown suffered only minor cuts and bruises in the accident largely due to the driver's seat breaking in the initial impact.[1] The famous corner was also the site of the crash between the Falcons of Bob Morris and Christine Gibson that blocked the track and stopped the 1981 James Hardie 1000 on lap 120, 43 laps short of race distance giving Dick Johnson and John French the win.

Brock's Skyline[edit]

A short straight connects McPhillamy to the next corner. Named 'Brock's Skyline' after nine-time Bathurst 1000 winner Peter Brock, Skyline is a sharply descending right hand corner which signifies the beginning of the descent from the top of the Mountain. The corner acquired the name from the visual effect of looking upwards at the corner from below, such is the sharpness of that initial plunge. During the 1970 Hardie-Ferodo 500, driver Tony Roberts lost control of his Ford Falcon and launched over Skyline backwards, tumbling down the hillside.

The Esses[edit]

The Esses are the series of corners which begin at Skyline and stretch down the Mountain towards Forrest's Elbow. There have been many notable accidents at this part of the circuit, including a blockage of the track in 2003 when Jason Bargwanna made contact with David Brabham. The most famous of the Esses, the Dipper (the third in the sequence), is a sharp left hand corner so named because, before safety changes were made, there was a dip in the road surface and a steep drop not far from the edge of the road, and many cars were able to get two wheels off of the ground.

Forrest's Elbow[edit]

The summit, looking from Forrest's Elbow to Skyline and beyond.

'The Elbow' – named after Jack Forrest, a motorcycle racer who scraped his elbow away after laying down his bike – is a slow, descending left-hand turn that leads on to the long Conrod Straight. The corner's line drifts towards the outside wall on exit and drivers have to be careful of getting too close. It was just past here that Dick Johnson clipped a tyre barrier just after exiting the corner during the pole qualifying session for the 1983 James Hardie 1000, which resulted in the breaking of the car's steering, sending his Ford Falcon careening off into a grove of trees and demolishing the car. This is also where Craig Lowndes aquaplaned into the tyre wall in 2001.

Conrod Straight[edit]

Formerly known as Main Straight, Conrod Straight was so named because of a con-rod failure that ended the 1939 Easter race of Frank Kleinig in his Kleinig/Hudson racecar. Conrod Straight is the fastest section of Mount Panorama, with today's V8 Supercars just reaching 300 km/h (186 mph). The straight is a roller-coaster ride featuring two distinct crests, the second of which was rebuilt in 1987. It has been on Conrod where five of the six car-racing deaths on the circuit have occurred – Bevan Gibson, Tom Sulman, Mike Burgmann, Denny Hulme and Don Watson. All except 1967 Formula One World Champion Denny Hulme (heart attack) died in high-speed accidents. However, the chicane introduced into Conrod Straight has made it one of the fastest turns in the world. Most drivers arrive at the initial part of the chicane at over 290 km/h (180 mph). Prior to the introduction of The Chase in 1987, Conrod was a mile long straight where the faster cars were getting airborne over the second hump, which was a contributing factor in Burgmann's accident. The fastest ever speed recorded by a touring car on the old straight was by Scotland's Tom Walkinshaw driving a V12 Jaguar XJS during qualifying for the 1984 James Hardie 1000. Walkinshaw was timed at 290 km/h (180 mph).[citation needed]

The Chase[edit]

The Chase, Murray's corner and the home straight

Known for many years as 'Caltex Chase', this three turn sequence was added in preparation for the World Touring Car Championship round in 1987. The section was dedicated to Mike Burgmann, who had died in an accident at the chicane's spot the previous year. Burgmann's death had prompted the building of The Chase. It interrupts Conrod Straight with Australia's fastest right hand bend, descending to the right away from the dangerous crest prior to the spectator bridge, before a sharp 120 km/h (75 mph) left hand bend then second right hand corner returns the competitors to Conrod Straight for the blast down to Murray's Corner. This corner was the scene of Peter Brock's only rollover in his motor racing career when he rolled his Vauxhall Vectra during practice for the 1997 AMP Bathurst 1000. The Chase has been the scene of numerous other rollover accidents: Tomas Mezera during the 1997 Bathurst 1000, John Cleland during the 2004 Bathurst 1000, Len Cave during the 2008 WPS Bathurst 12 Hour, V8 Ute driver Allan Letcher in a support race during the 2009 Bathurst 1000 and Fabian Coulthard during the 2010 Bathurst 1000. Don Watson was killed in an accident at the Chase during qualifying for the 1994 Bathurst 1000.

Murray's Corner[edit]

Murray's Corner is the final corner before Pit Straight and the lowest point of the circuit. It is a 90 degree left hand turn, and is a favourite overtaking spot as drivers hold braking duels for the corner. It was previously called Pit Corner before Bill Murray crashed his Hudson racing car there in 1946.

Lap records[edit]

The fastest lap ever recorded at Mount Panorama was achieved in March 2011. As part of a publicity exercise for the 2011 Australian Grand Prix and for the team's sponsors Vodafone, McLaren brought an MP4-26 Formula One car for Jenson Button and Craig Lowndes to drive around the track. The fastest lap was recorded by Button at 1:48.88, but as it was not recorded during an official race it does not count as the official lap record.[2] During the 2014 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour Shane Van Gisbergen set a 2m03.8506s lap in the number 37 Darrell Lea McLaren MP4-12C GT3.[3] The fastest ever lap of the pre-1987 circuit was a 2:09.7 set by Formula 5000 driver Neil Allan in 1970 driving a McLaren M10B-Chevrolet.

Kevin Bartlett set the first ever 100 mph (161 km/h) lap of the Mount Panorama Circuit at the Easter meeting in 1967 driving a Repco Brabham BT11A, recording a 2:17.7 lap. For his achievement he was awarded 25 bottles of champagne. Later in the weekend he won the NSW State Road Racing Championship and lowered his lap record to 2:17.4, which earned him another 100 bottles. With a time of 2:17.8, Allan Grice set the first 100 mph lap of the circuit for a touring car (under Group C regulations) during qualifying for the 1982 James Hardie 1000 driving a V8 powered Holden VH Commodore SS. Four years later at the 1986 James Hardie 1000, Grice also set the first 100 mph lap in a Group A touring car driving a Holden VK Commodore SS Group A, recording a 2:16.16 in official qualifying.

The current official lap record is held by Formula Three driver Simon Hodge at 2:02.6701 set on 20 April 2014. Hodge was driving a Mygale M11-Mercedes-Benz Formula Three.

Lap records for the various racing classes are:

Class Driver Vehicle Time Date
Outright Australia Simon Hodge Mygale M11-Mercedes-Benz 2:02.6701 20 April 2014
Racing Cars
Formula Three Australia Simon Hodge Mygale M11-Mercedes-Benz 2:02.6701 20 April 2014
Formula 5000 Australia Niel Allen McLaren M10B-Chevrolet 2:09.7 30 March 1970
Formula Ford Australia Anton De Pasquale Mygale SJ08a-Ford 2:17.9144 5 October 2012
Formula Vee Australia Benjamin Porter Checkmate JP02 2:43.2401[4] 5 February 2012
Sports Cars
GT3 Sports Cars New Zealand Shane Van Gisbergen McLaren MP4-12C GT3 2:03.8506[5] 9 February 2014
Radical Cup Australia Neale Muston Radical SR8 2:07.7654[6] 8 February 2014
Carrera Cup New Zealand Craig Baird Porsche 997 GT3 Cup 2:09.4010[7] 7 October 2012
Nations Cup Australia Garth Tander Holden Monaro 427C 2:14.3267 17 November 2002
Production Sports Australia Scott Bargwanna Lotus Elise HPE 2:15.5791[8] 23 April 2011
Aussie Racing Cars Australia Peter Carr Aurion-Yamaha 2:32.5206[9] 23 April 2011
Historic Sports Cars
Group Sc Australia Geoff Morgan Porsche 911 Carrera 2:37.3053 11 April 2009
Group Sb Australia G. Williams Morgan Plus 8 2:45.4592 11 April 2009
Group Sa Australia Peter Jackson Austin-Healey 3000 MkI 2:49.8157 12 April 2009
Touring Cars
V8 Supercar Australia Jamie Whincup Ford BF Falcon 2:08.4651[10] 7 October 2007
Dunlop V8 Supercar Australia Jonathon Webb Ford BF Falcon 2:09.1614 9 October 2009
Sports Sedan Australia Keith Carling Nissan 300ZX-Chevrolet 2:13.8300[11] 2 October 1992
Group A Australia Mark Skaife Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 2:14.50[12] 6 October 1991
Group C Australia Peter Brock Holden VK Commodore 2:15.13[13] 30 September 1984
Super Touring United Kingdom Jason Plato Renault Laguna 2:16.8034[14] 5 October 1997
NASCAR New Zealand Jim Richards Chevrolet Lumina 2:18.1027[15] 24 February 1996
Improved Production Australia Ray Hislop Ford BF Falcon 2:22.4885 9 February 2013
GT Production Australia Neil Crompton Ferrari F355 2:24.6065 14 November 1998
Mini Challenge Australia Jason Bargwanna Mini Cooper S 2:30.2732[16] 11 October 2008
Commodore Cup Australia Steve Owen Holden VS Commodore 2:30.7639[17] 24 April 2011
V8 Utes Australia David Sieders Ford Falcon XR8 2:32.8379[18] 7 October 2012
Saloon Cars Australia Shawn Jamieson Holden VT Commodore 2:35.9685[19] 23 April 2011
Group E Series Production Canada Allan Moffat Ford Falcon XY GTHO Phase III 2:36.5[20] 1 October 1972
HQ Holden Australia Peter Holmes HQ Holden 2:56.0330[21] 19 October 1997
Historic Touring Cars
Touring Car Masters New Zealand Jason Richards Holden HQ Monaro 2:22.6622[22] 9 October 2011
Group Nc Australia Paul Stubber Chevrolet Camaro 2:28.1630 6 October 2006
Group Nb Australia Jervis Ward Ford Mustang 2:37.4101 7 October 2005
Group Na Australia K. Smith MG ZA Magnette 3:21.3310 11 April 2009
Motorcycles
Formula Xtreme Australia Kevin Curtain Yamaha YZF-R1 2:15.45 23 April 2000
Superbike Australia Kevin Curtain Yamaha YZF-R1 2:15.83[23] 23 April 2000
Sidecar Australia G. Biggs/Australia L. Genova LCR Krauser 2:30.28 10 April 1993

- time was set on the original 6.172 km (3.835 mi) layout.

Upgrades[edit]

In 2012, the New South Wales state government announced that the circuit would receive debris fencing to the pit wall to comply with FIA rules for 2013. The circuit will also have two new grandstands for 2012 at the Chase (grandstand will be called 'The Chase') and at Murrays Corner (grandstand will be called 'The Museum'). These grandstands were built specifically for the predicted record crowds to attend the 50th running of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in 2012.

Notable races[edit]

The very first race held at the Mount Panorama circuit was the 1938 Australian Grand Prix. Since that historic meeting 'the Mountain' has attracted some of the biggest races in the country. The Australian Grand Prix was held here four times (1938, 1947, 1952 and 1958) and the circuit also played host to the Australian motorcycle Grand Prix for a significant portion of pre-world championship life (1984–87). The Australian Tourist Trophy and the Australian Touring Car Championship also visited sporadically as well as numerous other Australian Championships. The circuit has been home to one of the world's classic endurance events, the Bathurst 1000 since 1963 after the race was moved from the Phillip Island Circuit in Victoria (the race was 500 miles between its start at Phillip Island in 1960, and from 1963 to 1972 at Bathurst before being changed to its current 1000 km format in 1973), as well as other races inspired by it, the Bathurst 12 Hour and now defunct Bathurst 24 Hour.

The first Motorsport event was a speed hillclimb held from Mountain Straight up to Reid Park. This event is still held today as a round of the NSW Hillclimb Championship.

In 2008, the circuit hosted the IGSA Gravity Sports World Championships: skateboard downhill and street luge downhill. The race began at Skyline and ended at Conrod Straight.

Racing deaths at Mount Panorama[edit]

Sixteen competitors have died during racing associated with Mount Panorama, including 1967 World Drivers' Champion Denny Hulme who died after suffering a fatal heart attack while at the wheel of his car. Two spectators were also killed in 1955 after being struck by a crashing car.

  • 17 April 1949 Jack Johnson, MG TC, Easter races
  • 6 April 1953 ( Billy Raymond Baldry) Motorcycle race, Easter races
  • 5 April 1958 Barry Halliday, Motorcycle, Bathurst Tourist Trophy
  • 2 October 1960 Reg Smith, Porsche, Australian GT Championship
  • 7 April 1969 Bevan Gibson, Elfin 400 Repco, Mount Panorama Trophy
  • 30 March 1970 Tom Sulman, Lotus Eleven Climax, Sir Joseph Banks Trophy
  • 2 April 1972 Lan Hog, sidecar, Bathurst tt race
  • 17 April 1976 Ross Barelli, Suzuki RG500, Easter races
  • 15 April 1979 Ron Toombs, Yamaha TZ 350F, Easter races
  • Easter 1980 Rob Moorhouse, Easter motorcycle races
  • Easter 1980 Alec Dick, Easter motorcycle races
  • 5 October 1986 Mike Burgmann, Holden Commodore VK SS Group A, James Hardie 1000
  • 4 October 1992 Denny Hulme, BMW M3 Evolution, Tooheys 1000
  • April 1994 Jim Colligan, Sidecar, Australian Tourist Trophy
  • April 1994 Ian Thornton, Sidecar, Australian Tourist Trophy
  • 30 September 1994 Don Watson, Holden Commodore VP, Tooheys 1000
  • 8 October 2006 Mark Porter, Holden Commodore VZ, Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Bill Brown's 1971 Bathurst Crash
  2. ^ "Jenson Button breaks Bathurst lap record". Speedcafe. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "2014 Bathurst 12-Hour: Ferrari Breaks Through, Lap Record For McLaren". The Motor Report. 10 Feb 2014. Retrieved 3 Mar 2014. 
  4. ^ NATSOFT Race Result[dead link]
  5. ^ "2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour Mount Panorama 2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour". National Software. 9 February 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour Mount Panorama 2014 Radical Australia Cup - Race 1". National Software. 8 February 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  7. ^ "Super Cheap Auto 1000 - Rd 9 2012 V8 Supercar Series Mount Panorama - Bathurst". National Software. 7 October 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012. [dead link]
  8. ^ "2011 Production Sports Car - Driver A". National Software. 24 April 2011. [dead link]
  9. ^ "2011 Aussie Racing Car Super Series - Race 1". National Software. 24 April 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000-2007 V8 Supercar Series Rnd 10". National Software. 7 October 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2007. [dead link]
  11. ^ Racing Car News. November 1992. 
  12. ^ Greenhalgh, David; Thomas B. Floyd; Bill Tuckey (2000). Australia's Greatest Motor Race 1960-1999. Chevron Publishing Group. p. 479. ISBN 1-875221-12-3. 
  13. ^ Greenhalgh, David; Thomas B. Floyd; Bill Tuckey (2000). Australia's Greatest Motor Race 1960-1999. Chevron Publishing Group. p. 472. ISBN 1-875221-12-3. 
  14. ^ "1997 AMP Bathurst 1000 Australian Racing Drivers Club". National Software. 5 October 1997. Retrieved 19 April 2008. [dead link]
  15. ^ NATSOFT Race Result Retrieved on 7 April 2013[dead link]
  16. ^ "Supercheap Auto 1000 - 2008 V8 Supercar Championship Rd10 Mount Panorama - Bathurst Fujitsu V8 Supercars - Race 2". National Software. 11 October 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2008. [dead link]
  17. ^ "2011 Australian Commodore Cup Series - Race 2". National Software. 24 April 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011. [dead link]
  18. ^ NATSOFT Race Result[dead link]
  19. ^ "Ashely Cooper 2011 Saloon Car Challenge - Race 1". National Software. 24 April 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011. [dead link]
  20. ^ Greenhalgh, David; Thomas B. Floyd; Bill Tuckey (2000). Australia's Greatest Motor Race 1960-1999. Chevron Publishing Group. p. 460. ISBN 1-875221-12-3. 
  21. ^ "Primus 1000 Classic Mt Panorama - Bathurst". National Software. 19 October 1997. Retrieved 19 April 2008. [dead link]
  22. ^ NATSOFT Race Result[dead link]
  23. ^ http://racing.natsoft.com.au/636896905/object_23446352.86U/View?38

External links[edit]