Bathurst. If you’re from Australia, you know what it means. And you probably already know that the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship will race the Bathurst 1000 KM this weekend. If you’re not from Australia, here’s what that means: The Bathurst 1000 is “Australia’s Great Race” and every year since 1960, it has produced some of the best road-course racing you’ll ever see.
And the best part: You can watch it all on MotorTrendOnDemand. That’s 1,000 kilometers, 620 miles, or 161 laps around the famous Mount Panorama Circuit with your MTOD account (or free 14-day trial, sign up now!). We see the word “epic” overused these days, but no other word fits the Bathurst 1000. So let’s answer some questions you might have about the race, the Supercars championship, and why it’s worth watching.
What do you mean Supercars? Like Lamborghinis and stuff?
No, this is way cooler. You probably have heard it called V8 Supercars in the recent past. The cars are basically what would happen if NASCAR and British Touring Cars had a baby. They have fuel-injected 5.0-liter V8s, rear transaxles with six-speed sequential shifters, independent rear suspension, big functional aerodynamic devices, and a common chassis with brand-specific body panels. Check out more on the cars here.
Short version: The Aussies race snarling V8-powered race cars on an epic track.
Sounds pretty cool. Didn’t I read they weren’t all V8s, though?
The rules were opened this year to allow non-V8 engines, but all teams are still running them this year. Next year, you will see some twin-turbocharged V6s. This will almost certainly be the last of the all-V8 Bathursts. That’s reason enough to watch it.
What about the Supercars series then?
The Supercars season consists mostly of sprint races, but the three-race Pirtek Endurance Cup near the season’s end pairs full-season drivers with a co-driver in the Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000, and Gold Coast 600. Bathurst is the centerpiece for the whole season.
Is that because it’s the longest race?
Partially. You will also find no racing circuit more epic than the Mount Panorama Circuit, which snakes up a mountainside before hurtling back down the other side into the long Conrod Straight and The Chase. The Chase, by the way, is a bend taken flat-footed at more than 180 miles per hour in these cars. At least one professional racer told me he’d rather race Mount Panorama than the Nurburgring every day of the week.
Do I remember something about Ford vs. Chevy rivalries?
It’s Ford vs. Holden, but yes. Those factions make NASCAR fans’ Ford vs. Chevy rivalry seem like puppies play-fighting. The rivalry is still fierce, even as Ford and Holden are abandoning domestic design of cars. Nevertheless, the lines have long ago been drawn between the fanatics. Legends abound not only about each sides’ ability to empty a Bottle-O store but also about the shouting and occasional kerfuffle in the unofficially delineated spectator areas of Mount Panorama.
So who’s gonna win this thing?
We’ll give you a short rundown, but anything and everything can happen in a 1,000-kilometer race. Keep that in mind once the green flag falls.
Team Penske—Yes, that Team Penske—has made a huge splash with the Ford Falcons they run in conjunction with Dick Johnson Racing. Scott McLaughlin (above) and Fabian Coulthard are DJR-Team Penske’s regular season drivers; both should have a good shot at winning with strong co-driver pairings.
The best Holdens will likely come from Triple Eight Racing, whose lead pair of Jamie Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen carry Red Bull sponsorship and a pile of wins over the last two seasons. Craig Lowndes drives the third Triple Eight Holden; he’s only won this race six times so don’t count the wily old veteran out.
Prodrive’s cars include 2015 champion Mark Winterbottom, who sports the fantastic nickname “Frosty.” Young teammates Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters have also shown huge promise. Mostert won at Bathurst in his 2014 debut while Waters won the opening round of this year’s Endurance Cup, the Sandown 500.
Holden drivers Will Davison and Garth Tander also have good shots at winning for Tekno Autosports and Garry Rogers Motorsports, respectively. Want a longshot? Keep an eye on David Reynolds in the Erebus Racing Holden (above).
As for Nissan, their cars have looked generally outgunned this year, but brothers Rick and Todd Kelly have logged about as many laps as anyone. Swiss racer Simona de Silvestro made a name for herself in America in IndyCars; she’ll be a favorite for many American fans in her Nissan.
Australian racing site Speedcafe made this sheet for some kind of betting pool, but it also serves as a great spotter guide if you’re new to the Supercars series. You can also get more detailed info on the track and strategy here.
Alright, we get it. It sounds pretty awesome, frankly, so how do I watch it?
If you have a MotorTrendOnDemand account, you can watch the Great Australian Race starting at 6:55 p.m. Eastern Time. The race typically takes more than six hours so you can drop in and out of it. However, be there for the closing laps because this race always produces dramatic finishes.
If you’re up late Friday night, you can also watch Qualifying at 12:45 a.m. ET followed by the Top 10 Shootout—where the quickest drivers go absolutely flat-out—at 2:05 a.m. ET.