2013 50 Years of the Bathurst Endurance Race 50 Cent

October 7, 2013

Australia 2013 Fifty Years of the Bathurst Endurance Race 50c

Mention Bathurst, NSW and the first thing to pop into your mind is undoubtedly the Bathurst 1000 kilometre endurance race at Mount Panorama, now celebrating 50 years of motor sports racing and fondly referred to as "The Great Race", the highlight of the V8 Supercars calendar and worthy of a special release commemorative coin from the Royal Australian Mint.

It was the vision of Bathurst Mayor Martin Griffin to develop a first-class professional racing circuit and on 17th March 1938, he opened the Mount Panorama Scenic Drive, which became the venue for the 1938 Australian Grand Prix attracting 20,000 visitors - an amazing feat considering Australia was still suffering from the fallout of the Great Depression.

Since then, Bathurst has held the Australian Grand Prix an additional three times (1947, 1952 and 1958), as well as being the home of the Australian motorcycle Grand Prix from 1984 to 1987 and a variety of other sports competitions.

The Bathurst 1000 Endurance Race actually began it's life as the Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Victoria in 1960. This race was specifically developed for Australian made or standard-assembled production cars. What was undoubtedly the forerunner of modern advertising norms, the shock absorber manufacturer Armstrong York Engineering became a sponsor with the sole intent to increase it's business with major car manufacturers - in particular, Ford and Holden. And so the rivalry began ....

However, in 1963 when the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit was declared too damaged for professional racing, the Armstrong 500 moved to Bathurst, NSW, under the management of the newly formed Australian Racing Drivers Club. In keeping with the race rules that racing cars had to be identical to those cars found on Australian car sales showroom floors, the race became famous by showcasing car manufacturers products.

The early races were won predominantly by small cars such as the Ford Cortina GT 500 and the Mini Cooper - they were economical on brakes, used less fuel and handled corners beautifully. So when a minimum number of pit stops were introduced in 1967, this signaled the beginning of the end to the small car racing advantage; more so when the V8 Ford Falcon GT was introduced, and then later the Holden Monaro GTS. By this stage, the racing rivalry was now amongst the "Big Three - Ford, Holden and Chrysler - leading to the development of "muscle" cars affectionately known as the "Bathurst Specials".

By 1973, the racing distance had been increased from 500 miles to 1,000 kilometres, in keeping with Australia's move to the metric system - the Bathurst 1000 was born.

Besides being a significant factor to the development of the Australian motor car industry, Bathurst has also been the stomping ground for many a racing legend - most notedly, the legendary Peter Brock. Debuting in 1969, he won the Bathurst 1000 nine times, mostly associated with Holden. He was lovingly referred to as "Peter Perfect', "The King of the Mountain" or just "Brocky", and tragically died in a car rally accident in September 2006. The section of the Bathurst track, Brock's Skyline, is named in his honour.

Advertising and sponsorship has been the key in the naming of the 1000 kilometre event with the title changing a number of times over the years. This year for the 50th Anniversary in 2013 the race is named the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. It's also been named the Bob Jane T Marts 1000, FAI 1000, AMP Bathurst 1000, Tooheys 1000 and the James Hardie 1000 just to name a few.

This weekend as you sit back to watch the Great Race with beer in tow cheering as a Holden fan or a Ford fan just remember the tally so far. Holden wins -29, Ford wins -18.

The NCLT (non-circulating legal tender) 50 cent Bathurst Endurance commemorative coin is struck in 2013 for the anniversary of this major Australian sporting event. Struck in cupro-nickel in a dodecagonal shape (12 sided) this uncirculated coin is not issued in any other set or packaging.

The image of a racing car with background mountains is designed by Daniel Neale, with the obverse portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley. It's packaged in a unique Mount Panorama Bathurst Information Card. The 50 years of Bathurst Endurance Racing coin retails at $9, at present with unlimited mintage but to be determined by collector demand.

Australia 2013 Fifty Years of the Bathurst Endurance Race Card (image courtesy www.ramint.gov.au)

Posted by harrisk at October 7, 2013 7:26 AM
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Bookmark and Share