THE pipe dream ended at noon on Thursday.
That was the time the long-held dream of a second circuit on Mount Panorama became a reality.
The selection of English firm Apex Circuit Design to complete the next stage of the job is the most meaningful step yet in what is being called the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in this city.
Apex boasts an impressive record in the industry and has delivered some of the best motor sports tracks around the world. Simply, no other tender could match its credentials.
More importantly, though, the naming of a designer means this is really going to happen.
The importance of the second circuit project to Bathurst’s long-term prosperity cannot be overstated.
It is no secret that the Mount Panorama racing circuit has been central to much of our regional growth over the past 40 or 50 years, giving the city an attraction and profile that are the envy of other regional centres.
But the Mount lost some of its lustre when changing safety regulations meant the bikes could no longer race there and there is genuine concern that one day the winding, testing track may be deemed too dangerous even for cars.
So beyond the chance to bring back bikes and hopes of creating a motor racing industry precinct, the establishment of a second track might actually be needed to keep the cars in Bathurst some time in the future.
Those races are not only vital for the Bathurst economy but also the regional NSW economy.
The Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 alone generates an estimated $26 million in just four days each year – money that no one wants to give up.
That helps explain why both the federal and state government have been so willing to open the coffers to support this second circuit project.
The state has already committed $15 million to the project and the Commonwealth $10 million – and there is good reason to believe more will be on the way.
History would suggest the governments are making a solid investment, as every dollar spent on Mount Panorama in recent years has been returned to the community many times over.
The future of racing is coming, and the Bathurst community is in for one fantastic ride.