You could call it a long time between drinks. It’s been some 35 years since the last race meeting was held at the Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst. Sure there has been the annual 1,000 kilometer race for what we call V-8 Super Cars, but there hasn’t been a race for the average “bloke and sheila” in all that time—a race where they could bring out their MGBs, Minis, or early-model Holdens and race against like cars.
As you would imagine with such an icon, there are governments and politicians involved, and there is actually a piece of New South Wales state government legislation that governs the use of the circuit. For years, the Mount Panorama Motor Racing Act stated that the circuit could only be used twice annually. Then, last year, this was amended to five. Why all this bureaucratic red tape? For the rest of the year the Mount Panorama circuit is a public road, and any Bruce Public is allowed to drive around the circuit, in either direction to his heart’s content. Providing he keeps to the 60-kph speed limit.
There have been attempts in the past to bring race meetings back to Bathurst, but each have been met by the brick wall of officialdom. With 2 meetings increased to 5 there looked to be a window of opportunity, big enough for a racing shoe to slip through.
The Festival of Sporting Cars (FoSC)had its gestation as MG Racing, part of the MG Club that in itself has a rich history in organizing club race meetings. In conjunction with the Bathurst Council, the officials of FoSC managed to overcome the hurdles that such an event presents and the green light was given for a meeting to take place over Easter, a 4-day, holiday, extra-long weekend across Australia.
To say it was a success would be an understatement. Due to the size of the grid and that the circuit was to return to road use at midnight Easter Sunday, the number of entrants were restricted to just 450 plus 50 reserves. In the lead up to the event, expressions of interest were called for and some 970 received. That presented a less-than-enviable task of culling.
In the end, entrants came from all Australian states and territories including 11 who made the 2,500-plus-mile trek from Perth, Western Australia. Vintage Racecar was there, too, with both editor/publisher Casey Annis and South Pacific Editor Patrick Quinn enjoying the excitement that is Bathurst. Vintage Racecar was also proud to assist the FoSC with the production of the meeting’s souvenir program.
With Easter approaching, everything was under control, except for one thing—the weather. Driving Mount Panorama is challenging enough, but to drive it in the wet requires a big heart and more than a little skill. Friday was wet. Thankfully, the weather gods were smiling on Bathurst for the rest of the weekend.
By Sunday afternoon, some 40 different events were held and everyone agreed that they had a tremendous weekend at the most iconic of Australian race circuits. Sure there were hiccups, and more than a few who became just a little too enthusiastic, but no injuries, and cars can be rebuilt.
The good news is that the FoSC meeting isn’t just a one-off, and plans are well ahead for Easter 2009. For more information have a look at www.fosc.com.au