I was a Flag Marshall for the Bathurst 24 hour car race that was held here in Bathurst, at Mt Panorama, which is the place where the famous Bathurst 1000 race is held every year. This is the first 24 hour race to be held here, but not the first 24 hour race to be held in Australia. The first was actually held in 1954, on an old Air force runway in Mt Druitt in Sydney's west.
Anyway, I might write it out in a bit of a time headed diary sort of thing. You'll see what I mean...
This was when the marshal's sign on was held. Too blinking early if you ask me, but necessary all the same, as the action started pretty early. The marshals had to be out on the tract a good 30 minutes before the cars went out. At the sign on we obtained what shifts we were on and what points around the circuit we would be for the 3 days. I was given Point 13, Drivers Left, Shift 2. That meant that I was on the inside of the circuit (on the drivers' left) and point thirteen was actually halfway through the "esses" which was at the top of the mountain. All the marshalls on every point were split up into 2 teams, shift 1 and 2. For the Friday, Shift 1 was on from 7.15 am till 1pm, then Shift 2 would take over and be on until 10pm that night. So I got the longest shift for the day. Paul and Lyndal were actually given 13.1, which is the very next point, almost practically opposite me, but is actually a couple of meters down the track, but on the other side. They were also given Shift 2.
Because Paul, Lyndal and I weren't on until Lunch time, Paul and I decided to do some sightseeing before we were on while Lyndal decided to get more sleep. We walked down pit lane, had a good look at all the 24 hour cars, including the Monaro, the Mosler and the Ferrari. Then we watched the HQ's and the V8 Brutes (Utes) at Caltex Chase for a couple of hours . We had fun watching the HQ's lose it on the chase and spin off. The Utes didn't really go off at all which was a shame...
10 am Friday
We watched the first sessions of the 2 hour showroom cars do their practise and then the actual 24 hour cars, saw a couple of the Mirage's get a little sideways coming out of the chase, but otherwise accident free. We saw the Monaro and the Mosler in action, the Monaro being the obvious quicker car at the time as the drivers of the Mosler had never seen the track before and were just getting a feel for it.
We met with Lyndal again and got ready for our stint at the top of the mount. The buses came around and dropped us off all at our points (as the circuit was open for lunch). Whilst on point, I actually carried out communications duties as well which was a bonus for me, because now I am qualified to do both Flagging and Comms. Not a lot happened while I was on duty, whenever there was an accident, they stopped the session and we indicated this by showing the red flag.
This was the 2nd practise session for the 24 hour cars, and probably the only exciting thing was one of the BMW Z3 coupes decided to blow an engine right infront of us, going down the dipper about 50 metres down the track, dropping oil all the way. We had it cleaned up by the other marshals and the supply marshals who came around with more kitty litter because our point didn't have enough to clean it all up. The rest of the session progressed fine, without incident from our point of view.
This was the 3rd and final practise/qualifying session and it was the night session. Instead of flags, we used paddles and the track was lit up like a christmas tree. Where I was, in the esses, was on a fairly steep downward slope, just before the dipper, which is, true to its name-sake dips even deeper, so the cars are really applying the brakes through here. So during the night session we could see the cars giving their brakes a good workout and we could see them actually glowing red hot. We also saw for the first time what lighting each car had. I think some of the drivers took a trip to a Jaycar shop before the weekend because some of them had some of those really gimmicky lights, like the Honda S2000 had the green neons underneath the car, ala Fast n the Furious, the Mosler had a white flashing light on the top, a few of the BMW's had coloured lights on top, with one of them having those flashing LEDs that respond to radio waves on their radio antenna. The VX Commodore HSV GTS had 6 main lights on the front, with blue led lights on the rear vision mirrors and you might be able to guess what the MR2's had... yup, you guessed it, the windscreen water sprayer LEDs. Half the cars looked elligible for the Sydney George St drag! ;)
Well, that was the first day... as it's time for me to go, I'll finish the other two days tomorrow! :)