Even if you’re not a motorsport fan, you probably know this is Bathurst weekend.
According to Supercars legend Mark Skaife ‘The Great Race’ is “part of the social fabric of Australia”.
And according to Roy Morgan Research, some 3.8 million Australians watch at least some of ‘the Great Race’ on TV.
In other words, of any five people, one of them will be watching.
But to many, the appeal of watching cars go around a circuit for about six-and-a-half hours will always remain a mystery.
What is the great appeal of the Bathurst 1000?
“It’s an AFL grand final, it’s an NRL grand final, it’s a Melbourne Cup in our world,” Skaife, a six-time winner at Mt Panorama, told The New Daily.
“People are drawn to the heritage and tradition of this event.”
Some of the biggest names in Australian sport are known as Bathurst winners.
Nine-time winner Peter Brock is the biggest of them all.
The winners’ trophy was named in his honour in 2006, following his death a month before that year’s race.
Skaife himself is right up there.
Then there’s the likes of Alan Moffat, Jim Richards, Larry Perkins, Dick Johnson, and Craig Lowndes.
Lowndes is looking for win number seven this year, driving with Jim Richards’ son, Steven, a four-time winner himself.
Drivers race in pairs of two, given the gruelling nature of the 161-lap event.
Each team must nominate a lead driver, who can drive no more than 107 laps, and a co-driver, who must drive at least 54.
Some people pay little attention to the other events on the nine-month V8 Supercars calendar, but tune in to Bathurst.
“It’s the rivalries that have formed the cornerstone of Australian touring car racing and Supercar racing,” Skaife said.
Four-time winner Greg Murphy has said Bathurst was always his priority, and that most drivers don’t care what it means to their championship aspirations, they just go flat out to win this race.
Skaife says the one thing the casual observer should know to really appreciate the excitement of the Bathurst 1000 is how close the finishes are.
“If you look at the last 10 years, the average margin of victory over 10 years in a thousand-kilometre race is around one second,” he said.
“So that’d be like having 10 grand finals in a row with a one-point margin.”
There are a lot of other things we could tell you about the Bathurst 1000, but we’ve picked these six fast facts:
1. Brock debuted in 1969, won for the first time in 1972, and went on to win eight more times in the next 15 years, the last in 1987.
2. The Mt Panorama circuit is made up of what are public roads for the majority of the year, and the highest point is 862m above sea level.
3. One lap of the circuit is 6.213km, with 1.9km of that being Conrod Straight and another 1.1km Mountain Straight.
4. There are 23 corners to challenge the drivers’ skill. The first is named Hell Corner, Griffins Bend is at the end of Mountain Straight, The Cutting has a 1:6 gradient at the exit, while The Dipper – the third corner of The Esses – is a steep, sharp, left-hand turn.
5. The top speed down Conrod Straight is very close to 300km/h while the average speed for the entire race is over 160km/h.
6. A driver’s average heart rate is 170 beats per minute and each driver does what equates to more than a thousand single leg presses of more than 120kg, pressing the brake pedal.
Whether you watch all day on Sunday, a few parts of the race, only the finish, or don’t watch at all, you’ll know that there are 52 drivers and co-drivers in 26 cars pushing themselves to exhaustion to take the chequered flag and claim the Peter Brock Trophy.