Bathurst 12 Hour
31 January - 3 February 2019
I have travelled to The Mountain lots of times over the years.
First, as a teenager, watching my heroes battling each other in different makes and classes of cars, in the Group C and then Group A days. That was the real Bathurst. You could go and buy a car, put in a cage and go racing. Real cars, anyone could buy one. Then came the V8 years, gone were the real cars, you had to be a factory backed team or very rich to go racing now and that lost its appeal for me.
When I got into racing my E30, it was like the old days of the Group A cars, they were a car anyone could build and go racing, so I did. I joined Improved Production and later started the E30 Racing Club so enthusiasts like me could race our cars at tracks our heroes did. Including at Bathurst!
I raced my E30 at Bathurst for a couple of years and it was a dream come true. To race there like Brocky and Jim that I had watched when I was young. It was a life-long dream achieved.
Then came the 24 Hour for a couple of years, followed by the 12 Hour we have now. Cars you can actually buy, different manufacturers, teams from all over the world, racing at Bathurst again!
My kids had been going up and camping on the Mountain for a few years like I did when I was their age, but life and work had prevented me from going. Last year, however, Jo and I decided to go and watch and support our friend and fellow DCM member Steve Richards and his SRM Team racing the M6 GT3. We decided that if we were going to go, we would do it in comfort and so went with a company that does packages. It was awesome! Whilst there in 2018 we met a lot of club members from clubs all over the country and thought it would be a great event to do as a club.
So, this year, with the new club up and running, we decided to make it an event and invite members to come with us. A few took up the offer and we had a fantastic time! The package we do includes accommodation, 4 days entry to the event, corporate parking right at the gate, the best corporate hospitality suite, on top of the pit building, air conditioned, all you can eat and drink all day…perfect. Also included is a dinner on Friday night with a special guest. This year we were very lucky to have the eventual winner of the 12 Hour, Matty Campbell, as our special guest. He is a lovely young guy and it was great to sit and chat with him and wish him well. We might not have wanted him to beat the BMW teams, but if a BMW didn’t win, it was good he did.
We all really enjoyed the whole weekend. It is the best race weekend to go and be a part of, the teams and drivers are great and very welcoming and accessible, the racing is fantastic and of course the company we shared the weekend with was great too. You won’t find a better event to go to, it is both social and a car lover’s dream and recommend it to everyone.
So, if you like the idea of coming next year keep an eye out for it to come onto the calendar for 2020.
Graeme Bell | Member #1
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne
Thursday morning, we set off early to do the 9-hour drive to Bathurst.
Getting there just after 3pm, we checked into the Bathurst Apartments, unpacked our bags and rested up until the others arrived. We then all went out for a lovely dinner at the local club.
Friday morning was exciting. Driving up to the track I had goose bumps, it is just an amazing sight. We were welcomed into the 12-hour club and were greeted with food and drinks, which basically continued none stop until Sunday after the race.
We went out exploring and bought some merchandise and then settled in to enjoy the racing thorough out the day.
On Friday night we were lucky to have dinner with young Matty Campbell, who if you didn’t watch the race, was the winner. He was a very lovely young man and I am sure will go places in motorsport.
Saturday and Sunday were amazing with us meeting so many drivers, being able to get their autographs and just stand and chat with them.
The race was one of the best races I have watched for a long while with about 6 different teams being very close to winning in the end. I loved every minute of it.
I will be going back again next year and if you haven’t been before, I highly recommend you look into coming with the club next year.
Jo Mawson | Member #2
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne
Through the cold grey half light that exists just before dawn the criss-cross strakes of 40 or so pairs of headlamps made a dazzling pattern which mixed with the thunderous roar of the V8 powered cars and the slightly shriller tones of the rest to form an exciting assault on the senses as the field roared over the start/finish line for 12 hours of racing. Seen from above on the outdoor balcony of the 12 Hour Club atop the pit complex it was impossible to understand how any of the drivers could see where they were going with so much dazzle and glare. But apparently driving in the dark “is the same as driving in the day but with less daylight”!
Five in the morning may seem an unsociable hour to be at such an event but in reality everyone seemed to be very sociable and relaxed – surprisingly so down in the team garages and pits where, even as the tensions rose with last minute preparations, it was possible to grab a quick word here and there.
“Our team” (2 BMW M6 GT3) were pinning their hopes on opportunistic safety cars and not letting the more fuel efficient Porsche cars get a pit stop ahead. Unlike the teams we had the luxury of a superb breakfast with plenty of food and drink all day served in air conditioned comfort with large TV screens and a second screen of full timing data to keep us informed, with the option to stand on the balcony or watch from almost anywhere we preferred.
As the temperatures rose and the drivers understandably wilted we remained comfortable and thoroughly entertained, using the timing data to play team strategist during the tension building closing 3 hours as our prospective fortunes waxed and waned.
A nail biter of a last hour saw a well deserved victory for the wrong team, Porsche – leaving the other 5 teams to contemplate their long list of reasons why they should have won!
If you are going to spend 12 hours doing something, try to do it in style and comfort – as we did.
Lawrence Glynn | Member #3
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne