A slow lap of Mt Panorama with pictures
One of the things I did on the way over to Adelaide, was to do a lap of the Mt Panorama racetrack at the city of Bathurst and take pictures along the way. I've lifted the below commentary from here. I only did the circuit at a leisurely 60km/h although down Conrod straight I went a litle quicker! There was a lot of roadwork, trackwork, painting, grass maintenance going on, so one had to be careful.
This racetrack is a regular public road for most of the year, although it closes in October for the annual Bathurst 1000 which I used to watch as a kid.
Here's a map of the track with racing gears marked on it.
My comments are in RED
The lap begins at the start line at about 200km/h in 4th gear before you brake hard and go back to 2nd gear for the first turn, Hell Corner.
It is hard to imagine reaching 200km/h (120 mph) along here. The corner comes up pretty quickly.
Hell is one of the track's most critical corners.
If you get a bad run out of it you lose speed going onto Mountain Straight. And because it is uphill you never get it back.
This is a long, steep climb up the mountain reaching gradients of up to 1:6.13. many a racecar has blown a diff or radiator climbing here.
Griffin's Bend, at the top of Mountain Straight, requires precise braking and 3rd gear, but you're helped a bit by the fact that it's uphill and there's a camber change halfway through, so the car pulls up easily.
It's important to keep car speed as the climb to The Cutting is one of the slowest on the whole track. Having accelerated up to 4th gear, you wash off speed going into and through The Cutting, dropping back to 2nd gear to get on the power for the steep climb.
A tricky left hander which like most corners is blind. You have to slow down whilst having gravity working against you up the mountain.
Powering up to 3rd gear for the run along the fence at Reid Park and into 4th gear for the sweep through the left hander on towards McPhillamy Park. It's all about timing here, get it right and you can set the car up nicely for McPhillamy; get it wrong and the car will be kerb hopping all the way across the top, losing time and increasing your heartrate!
McPhillamy is a blind corner, you never know what is on the other side until you get there, which doesn't take long at 200km/h. It is taken virtually flat in 4th gear, with a slight confidence lift off the accelerator as you crest the brow and the car leaves the track for a moment, just before the sweeping left hander.
The short blast to Skyline will see you hit the limiter in 4th before braking hard for the run down the Mountain, which begins blind. Get it wrong here and you'll never recover.
Coming towards this you see the road disappear and the sky open up in front of you. I suppose that's why they call it Mount Panorama! It is scary at 60kmh (36 mph) let alone at around 200kmh (120mph)
Another shot of Skyline so you can admire the view. See how the road disappears again to your right?
The key to Skyline and The Esses is to try and straighten them as much as possible. Drop back to 3rd for Skyline and to 2nd for The Esses to keep as much throttle on as possible.
In the middle of The Esses is The Dipper, scene of many spectacular racing shots. While you try to keep the car on four wheels, momentum usually means the inside wheels lift clear of the track.
Race cars travel down this section on three, sometimes two wheels. It isn't hard to see why.There are sudden camber changes accompanied by a really steep gradient drop through this section.
Exiting The Dipper you're in 2nd gear and accelerating hard, up to 3rd for the run to Forrest Elbow. This is a tricky corner and if you don't brake early enough your race can end very quickly in a tangle of ready-mix and metal. It's another corner of dramatic camber change.
This is really deceptive. It sneaks up on you and suddenly you're facing a very tight (blind) left hand corner. I almost rear ended a tractor travelling down through here.
We are doing about 130km/h as we swing onto the longest straight in Australia, Conrod. The exit to this corner is critical. If you come out too slow you've got no chance of passing anyone on the roller coaster ride of Conrod.
This is where some of the big boys really have some fun reaching speeds of up to 300kp/h (180 mph). A chicane was recently added just over that rise in the distance to slow them down.
But getting it right means you'll see almost 300km/h in 6th gear before a quick right hand sweep sees you brake HARD for the left hander at Caltex Chase.
The left hander in The Chase requires 3rd gear, and then its the foot to floor for the right hander over the brow, onto the short straight down the hill to Murray's Corner.
Murray's is probably the best passing spot under brakes at Mt Panorama, so you've got to be on your guard not to go in too deep if you are in front. If your behind then it is a case of forcing the other guy into a mistake and get by him on the inside. Back to 2nd for the corner, on the gas for the exit, and up through the gears on Pit Straight to cross the Start/Finish line to see if you can put in that perfect lap.