In the past, families steered clear of "the Hill", where old bangers were crashed into trees, flipped and set on fire. "Burnout" and "doughnut" competitions were staged, lavatory blocks were blown up. One year, an ice-cream van was fire-bombed, sofas were torched, and battles were fought with missiles including beer cans filled with concrete. It was reported that campers had played cricket with live chickens.
At Mount Panorama, often referred to as Mount Paralytic, fans set up rival camps and hurl abuse – and sometimes flaming loo-rolls – at each other. But relations between the red (Holden) and blue (Ford) tribes are mostly good-natured enough. Trevor Dunn and Rebecca Wynn, diehard Holden supporters, drove up from Canberra this year and pitched a tent next to their friends, Ford fanatics Janine Winnell and Kenny Woodcock. Janine sprayed Kenny's hair blue. Trevor and Rebecca brought their 16-month-old son, Bryce, barely able to lisp his own name but already a Holden boy. "You drill it into them, so they've got no choice," Trevor explains.
So sweet is that sound to Ford and Holden fanatics that one Australian car magazine produced a CD featuring a selection of V8 engines revving up. The previous night, Phil and his friend Colin had put it on the stereo in their tent. "We played it really loud and there were heaps of people gathered round," he says. "But we turned it up too high and fried the stereo."
At Bathurst, the idea that gas-guzzling V8s are an anachronism in a time of environmental responsibility cuts little ice. Holden sold more V8 cars last year than ever before, with some buyers saying that they thought it might be their last chance to own one.
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