Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A slow lap of Mt Panorama with pictures

Bathurst racetrack Posted by Picasa

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.

Bathurst Racetrack Posted by Picasa

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.

Pit Straight looking at Hell Corner.
It is hard to imagine reaching 200km/h (120 mph) along here. The corner comes up pretty quickly.
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Hell is one of the track's most critical corners.

Hell Corner Posted by Picasa

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.

Mountain Straight
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.
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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.

BP Cutting
A tricky left hander which like most corners is blind. You have to slow down whilst having gravity working against you up the mountain. Posted by Picasa

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.

Skyline 1.
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)
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Skyline 2.
Another shot of Skyline so you can admire the view. See how the road disappears again to your right?
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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.

The Esses.
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.
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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.

Forrest's Elbow.
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. Posted by Picasa

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.

Conrod Straight

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.
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Conrod straight 2.

Heading towards Caltex Chase which unfortunately I didn't get a photo of.
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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.

Out of Murray's Corner into Pit Straight Posted by Picasa

Travelling home with the sunroof open Posted by Picasa

2005 Bay to Birdwood Classic- The Birdwood Gathering.

More acres of Tin Posted by Picasa

Bay to Birdwood Classic 2005- Birdwood gathering

Acres of Tin Posted by Picasa

Rain, rain and more rain. That was about it. The rain gods were not kind this year and it was a cold, miserable, wet, grey cloudy day once we had arrived. It was too wet to really do anything except have a look around the Museum pretend to feign interest in the band who were playing to wet empty muddy field. Chairs and tables all empty. Rock and Roll ladies who had rolled up in 50's cruisers looked disappointed as their petticoat skirts went flat, supermen who had braved the wet on underpowered motorcycles and driving convertible sportscars looked frozen. Those who had dressed in period costume looked wet or cold or both.

It was a major bummer.

So my brother and I decided to go back to my mother and fathers place, where it was warm and dry.

Not to worry, I had a 25th Bay to Birdwood anniversay plaque to put on my radiator grill which will take pride of place next to my MB club badge.

Even more acres of Classic Tin. My car is amongst this photo Posted by Picasa

Bay to Birdwood 2005- The Calvacade

Winding up through the Adelaide Hills following a Fiat 124 , an MGB and a classic Vespa motor-scooter. Posted by Picasa

I got a reasonably early start from the gathering at West Beach after the Concourse, Commercial and Motorbikes had departed. Actually I was around the 6th or 7th general entrant out of the gate.

Rain was looming and it looked as if it would rain on our parade.... which it did!

Despite the rain there were thousands of spectators lining the route, armed with umbrellas, raincoats and shelters. We waved and tooted the horn pretty well all along the 70km route. I took my time getting there although through the hill I had some fun tailing a Fiat 124 (pictured above) being driven by a young guy and navigated by his grandfather. I was wondering if this had once been this guys grandfather's car and here he was driving in the bay to Birdwood. It had the sweetest exhaust note as the young guy flattened the throttle up the Adelaisde Hills.

Believe it or not, there was a motorcycle traffic cop with a hand held radar speed detector pointing his radar down a hill....... prick. I may have been going at 68 or so in a 60km/h zone and wasn't too worried.

One of the highlights was a pub with some of the boys outside. They'd strung up an inflatable doll and made her wave to the entrants via a string which got a good laugh.

The rain got worse and we arrived at Birdwood. We parked the car in a rain sodden field and went to the Australian Motor Museum building to get out of the rain. Hundreds of other entrants had the same idea!

Heading up Grote Street. An old Austin to the left and a Jaguar XJS (the main market competition for my car at the time) up ahead. Posted by Picasa

Heading throuigh the centre of downtown Adelaide, some small raindrops strating to fall. Posted by Picasa

A group of MGA's heading off in line. The MGA was celebrating its 50th birthday and the MGA club was holding a sort of event-within-an-event. Posted by Picasa

Ford Falcom XW GT on its way Posted by Picasa

Boss Mustang heading off Posted by Picasa

Another rare bird....... a Lamborghini Miura heads off. Posted by Picasa

2005 Bay to Birdwood Classic- The Gathering.

Jaguar Mascot Posted by Picasa

It was a 5:00am rise as my brother and I prepared to arrive at the Bay to Birdwood Classic which was gathering at Barret Reserve at West Beach on the Western side of Adelaide. The gates opened at 6am, I wanted to get in early and appreciate and photograph some wonderful cars. We filled up the car with petrol and had a taste of what was to come with an old Chrysler R series sedan and a '65 Ford Mustang sharing the other pumps.

We arrived at about 5:55am and moved promptly to the head of a fast developing gathering of cars. Then it was salivation and falling to knees time as one after another, after another.....after another classic rolled in. There were acres and acres of iron worth millions of dollars by the time the rally was about to start off at 9:00am. 1766 different cars representing all periods and tastes from 1955 to 1975.

I found out that this was the longest and largest hisoric motoring event held anywhere in the world.

There were a herd of Ford Mustangs, a pride of British Jaguars and a flock of Ford Falcons. Everything from big finned American cruisers, cute French Renaults, statelyRolls Royce Phantoms, Volkswagens, MGs, Australian Holdens and Valiants and even a Ferarri or three. There was something for everyone. I was actually surprised (and a little chuffed) that my old 450SLC had a few admirers and photos taken of it.

And still they kept coming...... Studebakers, Triumphs, Datsuns, Rovers. Rain clouds were looming and a few spots of rain gave an indication of the wet day to come. I suppose if you have 1700 people assembling their freshly washed and waxed cars in one place, there is bound to be rain!

Anyway.......... there's a few photos below to indicate the variety on offer.