Beautiful but brutal

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 07/10/2015
  • By Riana Crehan

Backpack on, walking through the gates; still pitch dark, so early the garages are still locked. The air is bitterly cold as you breathe in the smell of campfire. Fans are lining the fence as far as the eyes can see, as they desperately wait to burst past the gatekeeper to secure their prized spot. Flags already waving high above their tired eyes, draped head to toe in team colours. 'Have a good day' you hear, as well as the usual ' Go Holden!' or 'Go Ford!'.

Standing on the grid, it is swollen with people. Look over to the hill to see banners as big as billboards. Not an inch of grass free. Team bosses cautiously dip their head to other bosses as a way to say good luck. Drivers go and shake hands with their competitors. Some walk and entire grid to just say two words. For others no words are even spoken it's just a look across a stretch of tarmac.

A moment of silence amongst a time of complete chaos and hysteria from fans. Noise from cheering, music, chanting. But it's almost as if in their head at that moment, time has stopped and it's silent while they exchange expressions with their rival and gather their thoughts before they prepare for battle.

Bathurst changes lives and it crushes souls. It takes a bunch of drivers, beats them to a complete pulp mentally, physically and emotionally and spits them out after six or so hours and only two get to be called champions for their effort. But it's not just the drivers, it's the team owners, the engineers, the mechanics, the caterers, the PR team, marketing, the people back at the workshop, the wives, girlfriends, mums, dads and volunteers who put every ounce of themselves into winning this one race where you will forever be a Bathurst champion.

Everyone has his or her own Bathurst story. But we all come back to the Mountain for the exact same reason. It's not by choice, we have too - it's an obsession, some might say an addiction.

It's beautiful yet brutal -I have been part of both. Enjoyed the scintillating highs and the gut wrenching lows. It's a place where you see the bravest of brave, the toughest of tough. The best drivers in the world make the tiniest of errors that destroys an entire year's worth of preparation in less then a blink of an eye. Where a millimetre can be the difference between making it and not. Where tears are ok. Because this place breaks you - not just the drivers, but also the teams, the crew, the fans.

For the drivers that aren't lucky enough to be one of the six standing on the podium at the end of the day, ask them when they start thinking about next year. They will tell you, right now. That moment. They want to get back here straight away. They would come back Monday if they could, this place means that much.

Bathurst -161 laps, 1000km of the best story you will ever be told. We don't need a script. We have the Mountain. What will the ending be in 2015?

Follow Riana on Twitter and Instagram: @rianacrehan

Stay In The Know
Sign up to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Newsletter