NO-ONE knows for sure what the future holds for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, but we know it boasts a wonderful past.
So it’s fitting that Thursday’s launch of the 2018 Great Race again took a stroll down memory lane to honour the heroes of years gone by even as it heralded the new generation of great drivers.
This year’s Bathurst 1000 will mark 50 years since the first win by Holden on Mount Panorama back in 1968.
Everything was different then.
Spectators still lined several sections of the Mount track and many of the competing cars were actually driven to Bathurst in the week leading up to the race.
Even the race rules were different. In 1968, co-driver Barry Mulholland completed just a single lap of the Mount Panorama circuit in the victorious Holden Monaro with lead driver Bruce McPhee behind the wheel for the rest of the day.
That first win opened the floodgates for Holden which has now won 32 Great Races, including the last three.
Some of the biggest names in sport – including Peter Brock and Craig Lowndes – have won for Holden over the past half-century and Holden fans and merchandise have consistently out-numbered traditional rival Ford.
In another nod to the past, Supercars will also induct three more Bathurst greats into the circuit’s Legends Lane as part of this year’s Race Week celebrations.
Last year’s inaugural Legends Lane ceremony recognised 14 heroes of Mount Panorama, which has hosted the touring car endurance classic since 1963, and while the names of this year’s inductees remains a closely guarded secret, Supercars promises they will all have helped forged the tradition of the Mount.
Supercars walks a fine line each year finding the balance between the honouring of the race’s past heroes while also celebrating the current crop of champions.
Perhaps it’s just nostalgia that paints the 1970s and 1980s as the Great Race’s glory days because we should not underestimate what a tough job it is for today’s drivers to carry on that legacy.
And in decades to come, now might be seen as the glory days as today’s young fans grow into adulthood.
The wheel is always turning and the race is always changing, but the lure of the Mount remains. It’s almost time to write the next chapter in this incredible tale.