Bathurst: 60 Years of the Great Race by Steve Normoyle

Reviewed by Richard Tutin

 Every year the hills around Bathurst in country New South Wales come alive to the sound of revving engines – lots of revving engines. The city’s famous Mt Panorama race circuit holds various events – some of which are eagerly anticipated by motor racing fans from all over Australia and the World.

No motor race is as eagerly anticipated as the Bathurst 1000. These days it is held over a weekend in October and is part of the V8 Supercar racing calendar. 2023 marks sixty years since the race began. The very first race in 1963 bore little resemblance to the slick operation of its current incarnation. The cars were very different with a variety of makes all trying for the trophy rather than the current Camaros and Mustangs that will line up on the grid in 2023.

Motorsport historian Steve Normoyle has, to mark this special anniversary, revised his previous book Bathurst 50 Years of the Great Race published in 2013 to bring the history of the Great Race up to the present time. While history books come in all shapes and sizes Normoyle has chosen to continue the format of the 2013 book by shaping anecdotes about each year’s race around action photos of the highs and lows of racing thoroughbred cars over the mountain course with its twists, turns and traps for all drivers.

While it is regarded as an endurance race, some drivers and their teams often treat it as a long sprint race and drive accordingly. Mt Panorama though can be very unforgiving and those who don’t take the circuit seriously have found, to their cost, that their car is not quite up to the task of a one-thousand-kilometre journey at speeds of up to 200 plus km/hour. This though is what makes the race so exciting. Teams and spectators alike really don’t know what is going to happen as the cars leave the starting grid and ascend the mountain stretch and then head down at often breakneck speeds to the very long Conrod Straight to complete their laps.

Normoyle lets the photos do most of the talking in this book. They show how the race has changed and developed over the years to meet the demands and needs of the most powerful cars on the Australian circuit.

Through the anecdotes, Normoyle reminds us of the great names that have made the race their own. Peter Bock, Larry Perkins, Mark Scaife and Craig Lowndes are mentioned numerous times along with the present cohort such as Shane Van Gisbergen, David Reynolds, Will Davidson and Anton De Pasquale to name a few.

This is a book to dip into rather than read from cover to cover. It is worth taking time to look carefully at the over three hundred photos and if you are an aficionado relive the years of competition that the Great Race has given to the Australian motorsport scene.

Steve Normoyle is currently the editor of the motoring and Bathurst racing bible Australian Muscle Car Magazine. He is a long-time motorsport enthusiast with over 40 years’ experience as a motoring journalist. He rose to the role of editor of Motor Racing Australia and Motorsport News, and he compiled most of the Australian Touring Car Championship and Supercar race programmes during the 90s and early 2000s. He is one of Australia’s pre-eminent motorsport historians and has reported on the Bathurst 1000 for over three decades.

Bathurst: 60 Years of the Great Race

by Steve Normoyle

(2023)

Gelding Street Press

ISBN 978 064520 701 9

$39.99; 255pp

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