Yesterday I Drove Bathurst’s Mount Panorama Circuit For The Second Time

Yesterday I Drove Bathurst’s Mount Panorama Circuit For The Second Time

“Bloody hell, I’m not from around here, I don’t know what this is.”

About five years ago I was in Bathurst for a reason that is boring so I won’t explain. But my Australian wife felt the need to take me to Mount Panorama. She told me I should drive around the track because a big famous race was held there. I didn’t understand the significance.

But what the hell, I did it anyway.

I find it crazy that Australia’s most famous race track is fully accessible to the public. That it takes place on a public road that anyone can access. I could actually drive up to Bathurst in the next couple of hours, drive around Mount Panorama and then come back home. Crazy. Actually. I don’t find it crazy. That’s just Australia. It might be the most Australian thing ever. “Bloody oath,” the track seems to say, “you might as well have a bloody go ya flaming galah.”

So like a tourist with absolutely no idea what I was doing I drove the car up to the start line. My wife hopped out and started taking pics. I revved the car. Hilarious. Then she got back in and we drove off round the Mount Panorama track, doing the speed limit the whole way like the law abiding citizens we are. Safety first ladies and gentlemen. Safety first.

Now I’m sitting at the Sony booth at the EB Expo. In a virtual car, with a virtual steering wheel and a virtual gearbox. I’m driving a virtual car around a virtual version of Mount Panorama and I am absolutely gunning the crap out of it. This is Gran Turismo 6, it’s the world’s premier driving simulator, but I’ve always really, really sucked at doing anything in this video game besides hurtling towards walls at an insane trajectory, crashing into everything possible.

This is a lot of fun. I’ve never been good at describing the experience of driving games because I’ve never really ever been all that interested in cars and how they handle. But Gran Turismo has always felt good. It’s always felt right. You can feel the weight of the work that goes into this explicit car pornography masquerading as a video game and I’ve always enjoyed ‘playing’ it.

But, despite the fact I’ve driven around most of Mount Panorama (albeit five years ago) I don’t really recognise much of this track. Mainly because I only drove around it once, and I don’t have an endless well of childhood memories of the Bathurst 1000 to draw upon. I just have that one time my wife forced me to drive on this weird road for reasons beyond my understanding.

Yet there was that one moment. Coming over the crest of the hill, jamming around tight corners at high speed, bombing down the mountain as she comes. I sort of remembered for a second. I had that feeling of Deja Vu. I’ve been here before. I headed into the final straight with the pedal grinding on the floor, reminded of five years ago, when my wife took a photo of me revving the car like a complete idiot and we drove off safely, doing the speed limit like good Australian citizens.

In the video game — of course — I crashed.


  • I was never a huge motorsports fan as a kid but I had friends and family who were, so it seems like I caught the Tooheys 1000 every year (later rebranded as the Bathurst 1000 because I think it became illegal to promote sports with alchool and tobacco brands some time in the 90s).

    I have this kind of ingrained consciousness of the race and an insidious loyalty to Peter Brock’s signature Holden with the ’05’ branded on the side.

    I won’t be buying GT6 (mainly because I’m not that much of a Playstation fan but mainly because I find the Gran Turismo series rather dull despite being visually stunning), but I look forward to enjoying the track in Forza 5.

    • It was never rebranded as the Bathurst 1000.
      It became illegal to have tobacco advertising, but alcohol is still OK.
      Tooheys just stopped sponsoring it, much like many MANY other companies have over the years and still do.

      From memory, it’s had the following names:
      Armstrong 500 [miles]
      Hardy Ferodo 500 [miles]
      Hardy Ferodo 1000
      James Hardy 1000
      Tooheys 1000
      AMP 1000
      Primus 1000
      FAI 1000
      Bob Jane T-Marts 1000
      Supercheap Auto 1000 [current name]

      So, there’s that.

      Might pick up GT6…. quite enjoyed 5 so hopefully they’ve fixed the issues with it and made it more streamlined.

      The track’s been in countless games already, though. So not overly *excited* about it. The version in project CARS is quite good though if anyone likes PC sim racing.

  • Question: What are the loading times like? GT5 completely lost my interest because waiting for 3-5 minutes for each track to load is ridiculous to me. Yes, it was installed on the PS3 too.

  • “This is Gran Turismo 6, it’s the world’s premier driving simulator”

    That sounded like it came straight from a GT6 promotional pack 🙂
    Good to see Bathurst in GT and Forza for next gen – more excited about seeing it in iRacing soon though.

    • Have a look at iRacing guys, for a proper racing sim. Been addicted for a while now and this has a real V8 powerhouse car in it. It is a beast that is almost impossible to handle, should be a blast around Bathurst, which is almost ready for release on iRacing (next build I think). I think this will be where I cut my teeth into Mt Panorama. iRacing all the way for a true real sim racer.

      • Completely agree – cutting my teeth on iRacing now and it’s so much more rewarding to race cleanly and consistently with an accurate sim. Will be upgrading to my D license early with another .3 safety rating – can’t wait 🙂

        • I’m currently on a B license nearly at A but been off for a few months…

          Loving the game, it can get annoying at times though.

          • I hear ya man, stick with it. As you get up in the classes ( I am A class now), it gets heaps better. I still race the mx-5 in the inracing news series, and it does get frustrating. As your iRating improves as well, you do get paired with better drivers. The track this week, summit point, is a great track fro the mx and created some good racing. We should all hook up in a race. I will be in the 6:30pm inracing news race tonight if anyone is keen.

  • Bro, you actually do get fined by the cops for driving over the speed limit at Bathurst.

    I know someone who lost their licence for doing it.

    Understandable, but also understandable that people would want to go to a world famous race track and you know, race on it.

  • those screens look just as good as forza 5 does, to my own eyes, and they from a machine that is 7 years old.

    Crazy what they can do with the hardware these days.

      • I’m more interested to hear what it SOUNDS like on PS4. For all the advances they’ve made on the graphical side, the cars still sound rubbish. And that’s still the case with GT6.

        • I think that’s where Forza 4 really got me. The guys who did the sound work for that are wizards.

    • nah, look at the Mt Panorama picture in full size, it’ll look great in motion, but that still shot shows the low polygon count. The Trees look like cardboard cutouts.

      The Forza 5 shots don’t look like they used actual photo’s for the textures though, in one shot of turn 13 there’s a grassy hill next to the billboard which should be a rocky cliff.. So GT6 might end up looking more like the real thing in motion.

  • I lived in bathurst for three years while I was studying, and a regular occurance was myself and a couple of roommates driving around the track. The crazy thing about it is the speed limit is 60km, but there are corner where you feel the need to go slower than that, even though th V8 drivers go around the same corners at speeds over 100.

    • Ah, a fellow CSU alumni. I used to hire the uni ute and drive around once at the speed limit looking for cops, and then another couple of times … faster. The burnt out clutch in that thing was probably mainly my fault.

  • Just as well you kept to the speed limit, Mark. The police are notorious for putting in radar traps, especially down Conrod Straight, and most especially before and after the race.

    Just another advantage of GT6/Forza, I suppose. No virtual police, and no virtual speeding fines. 😉

  • Do we even know if GT6 has V8 Supercars in it? Would be kinda sad to have the track but none of the cars to race in.

  • I won’t be getting GT6 because I know I won’t play it. But my friend will, and I’ll certainly give Bathurst a go. I know the track really well from driving it during my uni days, and would like to see how it stacks up.
    I remember reading an article by a guy who learned the Nurburgring (or whatever) by playing Forza, and then flew to Germany to actually drive it. He said the changes in elevation in reality just can’t be represented properly in a game with a fixed camera. Given how steep some sections of Bathurst are, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is my prevailing impression of the GT6 represenation.

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