‘Difficult’ and ‘unrewarding’ are the words retired Supercars driver Paul Radisich uses to describe his relationship with Bathurst.
It’s a fair description, given he is a man with two second-place finishes in the Bathurst 1000 and was involved in two horrific crashes at Mount Panorama.
Despite the hits and the near misses, Radisich is looking forward to reliving some of his memories at this weekend’s Legends of Bathurst festival at Hampton Downs in his native New Zealand.
“I had a 25-year career in motor sport and an event like this brings back great memories,” Radisich said.
“Close but no cigar is my story around Bathurst. I led the Great Race on many occasions, but unfortunately I never got to win it.
“It’s a track that’s been full of heartache and drama for me, but it was always exciting to race there and I always enjoyed going there regardless of the outcome.”
Radisich finished runner-up in the Bathurst 1000 in 1990 and 2000, but if you ask him, he’ll tell you it was 1999 that was the one that got away.
“1999 should have been my year,” he said. “We led the race all day and with 15 laps to go we got a puncture and didn’t finish. In 2000 I finished runner-up again. We had the quickest car, but things kept going wrong for us and I couldn’t quite catch Garth Tander at the end of the race.”
In 2008, the experienced driver broke his ankle and sternum in a major crash during the 1000, and it was an incident during practice for the same race two years later that ended his professional racing career.
“It took a couple of years to get over that one,” Radisich said. “I pretty much broke everything from my feet up to the vertebrae in my back. It took me a long time to recover and I have to manage some of those issues for the rest of my life.”
Apart from occasional events, Radisich does very little racing, however he will be back behind the wheel this weekend.
Radisich will race a replica of Dick Johnson’s famous Tru Blu Ford Falcon XE in the Legends of Bathurst Invitational.
The car is owned by New Plymouth accountant Philip Macey, who will share the driving duties.