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Bathurst 1000 legends look back on 60 years of iconic Mount Panorama motor race

Dick Johnson was 18 when he watched the inaugural Bathurst 1000 in 1963 and made his debut at the track a decade later.

He would go on to race 27 times at Mount Panorama-Wahluu, claiming victory in 1981, 1989 and 1994.

“Every time you drive over the Blue Mountains and you see Mount Panorama it brings back a lot of memories because it is such an iconic place,” Johnson said.

Johnson is remembered for many Bathurst moments, none bigger than his battles with “King of the Mountain”, nine-time Bathurst 1000 winner Peter Brock, and the 1980 event when, leading, he collided with a rock that had rolled onto the track, ending his race but cementing him as the Bathurst battler in the hearts of motor racing fans.

Cars roar from the starting grid in the ’70s.(Supplied: Supercars)

Johnson retired from driving in 1999 but maintained his presence in the sport as the owner of Dick Johnson Racing, which won its first Bathurst title in 2019.

Johnson said the sport had changed considerably during his 50 years of involvement.

“We used to spend many hours at midnight building the cars,” he said.

“I used to make the engine, the gearbox, then do the suspension at the racetrack.

An older man in a cap and branded polo shirt sits behind the wheel of an old racing sedan.

Dick Johnson the Ford XD Falcon he drove during his successful 1981 campaign.(ABC Central West: Hamish Cole)

“It was only the two of us but we managed and I’ve enjoyed it all.

“There has been good, there’s been bad and there’s been ugly — but I’ve loved it.”

A supercar covered with decals speeds down a straight at a racetrack.

Craig Lowndes has claimed victory at Bathurst seven times, placing him behind no-one but nine-time champion Peter Brock.(Getty Images: Robert Cianflone)

Lowndes marks 30 years on the mountain

This weekend seven-time Bathurst champion Craig Lowndes will make his 30th appearance at the event, which he first competed in in 1994.

“As a driver you never know how long you are going to have the opportunity, so to be here for a 30th time is pretty special,” he said.

“I grew up coming to this track as a teenager and loving it, wanting to be part of it, so for me this is our grand final — a race that you always want to win.”

Two smiling men in motor racing gear hold up a poster marking a win.

Garth Tander (left) and Shane van Gisbergen after winning the 2020 Bathurst 1000.(AAP: Mark Horsburgh/Edge Photographics)

Five-time winner Garth Tander said competing at Bathurst was one of the pinnacles of Australian sport.

“We are a mad sporting nation and there are a few events that really capture the imagination of the population, like the Melbourne Cup, AFL Grand Final, Boxing Day Test, State of Origin, and Bathurst,” he said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-08/bathurst-1000-legends-reflect-on-60th-anniversary-of-race/102942824 Bathurst 1000 legends look back on 60 years of iconic Mount Panorama motor race

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