MAYHEM ON THE MOUNT

MOUNT PANARAMA

STORY ANDREW BROADLEY PHOTOS NICGOS SAGE

A HAZE OF TYRE SMOKE HUNG IN THE SKY OVER MOUNT PANORAMA AT BATHURST AUTOFEST 2017

MOUNT PANARAMA T HERE is no patch of bitumen on earth that resonates with Aussie revheads quite like Mount Panorama in Bathurst, NSW.

Bursting at the seams with motorsport history, it’s difficult to imagine a better place to hold a car show than The Mount.

The iconic race track is also public road, so most days of the year there’s nothing to stop you tootling around the place in your streeter at the posted speed limit. However, it tends to be heavily policed, and as such, opportunities to tear up Pit Straight with the right pedal buried to the floor are few and far between – unless your name happens to be Craig Lowndes or Jamie Whincup, of course.

For that reason, we reckon Bathurst Autofest is a damn cool event. Pit Straight is closed for the duration between Murray’s and Hell corners, and it’s utilised for events like the Super Sprint (a rolling start drag race) and the Go-to-Whoa, which is conducted in a heads-up, side-by-side format, making it exciting to watch.

The pit precinct plays host to the rest of the event, including a static show ’n’ shine, tarmac driving events and a very well-patronised skid comp. The rest of The Mount remains open to the public, which means you are free to cruise Australia’s greatest race track with your mates in your street-registered car whenever the mood takes you, as long as you behave yourself.

We’ve tagged along to Bathurst Autofest from the very beginning, and always had a great time.

In 2017, that winning atmosphere that only Mount

Panorama can provide remained alive and well, and while the sound of highly strung V8 engines ringing out across The Mount is nothing new, the opportunity to take part in our own unique breed of motorsport in such a sacred place feels like a real privilege.

Like many of these types of events, the skid comp is quite central to the goings-on at Bathurst Autofest. The chance to turn tyres on hallowed ground appeals to a broad spectrum of our nation’s skidders, and this year’s comp was hotly contested by an impressive and varied range of vehicles. Purpose-built skid rigs, low-buck junkers and street cars alike queued up to leave their mark on The Mount.

Some of the more fancied competitors included Phil Kerjean’s TUFFST wagon, Matt Power’s T4TUFF HQ Holden one-tonner, Mark ‘Milfy’ Montgomery’s newly revamped VL Commodore, Adrian Cuthbertson’s SKIDMA Sigma, and Dean Patterson’s TYRH8R Fairlane. But there was a swathe of determined local competitors on hand to keep them honest, including Blake Lobley’s SHORTY Land Cruiser and Danny Board’s VK onetonner, to name a couple.

Held over two days – Saturday 11 March and Sunday 12 March – the competition saw each entrant perform one burnout per day. At the end of the weekend, the scores were tallied to decide the winners in each class.

This meant that if you under-delivered on Saturday but had a blinder on Sunday, you were still in with a shot at the podium.

Ultimately though, the winners performed cracking skids across both sessions, with Adrian Cuthbertson taking the Pro class win from Matt Power and Phil Kerjean with a manic display in SKIDMA, fully laden with passengers!

Dean Patterson had his Powerhouse Engines-built, dry-sumped Windsor singing a sweet tune all weekend, taking a resounding win in the Naturally Aspirated V8 class.

Away from the pad, Ross Mayes had a blinder in his beastly flamed ’32 Ford tudor, BURNT1, claiming Top Hot Rod, Top Custom Paint and Quickest Eight-Cylinder Pro Class in the Super Sprint. The blown 468ci Chev-powered beast also finished in the Top 10 judged cars, and between his efforts in the show arena and on the track, Ross accrued enough points to be declared Bathurst Autofest Grand Champion for 2017.

Needless to say, any day that you get handed a trophy with the words ‘Bathurst’ and ‘Champion’ etched into it is a good one.

“It was absolutely awesome; I’m rapt,” Ross said. “I’ve won Grand Champion at Spring Nats a couple of times, as well as Mount Gambier, Albury and now Bathurst Autofest, so it’s more or less a full set.

“Bathurst Autofest is a great weekend, because there’s so much action and so much to do. You can just go and run on the main straight all day, which I did. I lost count of how many laps I did; probably around 50 between the Go-to-Whoa and Super Sprint. It’s probably my favourite event.” s