The Great Race

"Race on Sunday, sell on Monday" was the marketing catchcry for the car manufacturers, a justification for the pile of money they spent over the years on Touring Car racing. Touring Car racing is a class of motorsport that is based on a modified road-going car. Most cars would come straight off the showroom floor, were adorned with a few stickers and raced. They used thumping big engines and standard brakes, so they went fast, but stopping them was another story.

The biggest race of the year was the Bathurst "Great Race", a 1000 kilometre endurance, where the first challenge was to survive to the end, let alone win it. Motorsport legends were created with Peter Brock winning nine times in his Holdens, and an iconic one-two finish for Allan Moffat and Colin Bond in their Ford Falcons in 1977. It was not uncommon for world champion drivers, such as Jack Brabham or Alan Jones, to try their hand at winning, only to crash out on the start line. 

As a kid, I would always rise early on race day and sit glued to my television, wondering who would fall by the wayside and who would win. There were no safety cars, and barring a complete blockage of the track, the race never slowed down or stopped. It was non-stop action, and I loved it.

Today it is no longer an event for Touring Cars. The "Great Race" is now for Supercars only. A reduced field of cars that are no longer the straight off the showroom floor models. They use a standard chassis, outdated engines and an outer skin that resemble models you can no longer buy. It is our version of NASCAR, and though the cars are more reliable, the endless safety car periods bunch the field up, making the event just a series of sprint races.

I miss the idea that a car I see on the track is one that I can buy. With other racing categories now nipping at Supercars heels, I would suggest the "Great Race" is at risk of becoming irrelevant. 

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