Mt. Panorama and Bathurst* are sinonym… synonym… have a rich history of motor racing in Australia, with the first motorcycle race being held way back in 1911 at a place called Kelso a few clicks outside of Bathurst.
After a falling out with the local constabulary, motorcycle racing was moved to the Vale Circuit, and stayed there from the first meeting on Easter Saturday April 4, 1931 until 1937. In 1938 it was relocated again, this time to Mt Panorama.
The interesting thing about Mt Panorama is that it is a rural public road with 2-way traffic and a 60km/h (37mp/h) speed limit most of the year. The circuit is 6.172 km (3.835 mi) in length and climbs 174m (570 feet) from the bottom of the circuit (Pit Straight) to the top of the circuit (Skyline).
Mt Panorama and the Easter Bike Races became part of Australian biker folklore, running continuously for 50 years until they were axed in 1985.
Why were they axed?
No, not because of noise complaints, but because of rioting.
Bikers would head to the mountain each Easter for the races, and even as far back as the early ’60’s newspaper reports labeled the spectators as a deviant element because of their wild behavior.
During the early 80’s the festivities attracted the attention of the local police, who thought it a good idea to bring in the Tactical Response Group (TRG) to control the throng.
As a result of the confrontation between the bikers and the TRG at the last Easter meeting in 1985, the races were cancelled.
Debate rages to this day about who was worse; The bikers or the TRG.
Bikes returned to the mountain in 1993.
In 1994 there was an accident at the top of the mountain at Macphillamy Park, and 3 side car riders were killed. Racing continued at Mt. Panorama until 2000.
Soon after the 2000 race finished, the concrete lined track was deemed unsafe for motorcycles, and the Bathurst bike races faded into history.
Fast forward to 2014 and rumors have been raging for years of a second circuit being built at Mt. Panorama.
The topic came up again a few weeks ago while I was listening to Greg Hirst on Ride.
Greg was interviewing the member for parliament for Bathurst, Paul Toole, about rumors of motorcycles returning to Mt Panorama.
As it turns out, Bathurst City Council has been considering a second more permanent circuit for some time, and the New South Wales (N.S.W.) State Government in it’s last budget allocated $5 million towards a new racing circuit at Mt Panorama. Not only for motorcycles but also for other motor sports.
To Quote Mr Toole:
“As the local member, I want it put on the record that I intend to drive this project to ensure it does not falter,” Mr Toole said, speaking withFairfax.
“The $5 million in the budget is a great way to get the ball rolling. This means the second track is no longer a pipe dream; it’s going to happen. I look forward to working with council to do the planning and get started on the construction of this initiative.”
It is hoped that the Feral Guv’mint will chip in as well, and there is a strong belief that they may have already given some consideration to the project, but as yet, nothing has been announced.
This along with the recent push for a TT style race on The Lions Road that runs through The Border Ranges National Park means that the future looks bright for Motorcycle racing in Australia.
- Bathurst: Pronounced like this… Bathhurst… short ‘A’
- Lions TT: The Lions TT Motorcycle Festival, will be a three-day and night motorcycle festival that is open to all motorcycle brands. Think Sturgis meets the Isle of Man TT