THE inaugural Bathurst Rally gets underway this Saturday and will bring nearly 50 cars to the city to begin what organisers will hope is the first chapter in a big event for the region.
The rally, organised by the North Shore Sporting Car Club, has taken the place of the Oberon Rally on the NSW Rally Championships calendar and is set to give spectators a chance to get up close with the cars before the event.
Spectators can take a look at cars in front of the Bathurst Court House at 7am before they head out of town for the first of 11 special stages.
The rally has drawn 40 entries for the full version of the event while another seven cars will take on the short edition.
Organisers are hopeful that the rally can grow to be not just an important part of the NSW Rally Championship but could possibly work its way onto the Australian Rally Championship calendar in future years.
That's the ambition Clerk of Course and Event Manager Jon Thomson has, and he's excited to see how the first edition unfolds this weekend.
"Oberon was a great town and we loved running it there but it was limiting in terms of infrastructure, accommodation and commercial support so we made the move to Bathurst to try and take the rally to another level," he said.
"We'd love for it to be a part of the Australian Rally Championship. Bathurst, in my view, is the cradle of Australian motorsport in many ways. Mount Panorama is such an important part of the Australian motorsport psyche, and in face in a few weeks' time I'll be attending my 50th consecutive Bathurst 1000.
"NSW doesn't have a round of the Australian championship at the moment. Being the most populous state we should have a round. Coffs Harbour was the centre of it here before COVID and bushfires saw it die out.
"We were very pleased that Bathurst Regional Council allowed us to have the service park right in the middle of town so people can come and have a look."
Along with being a round of the NSW Rally Championship the event will also be a part of the East Coast Classic Rally Series, NSW Clubman Rally Series and the NSW Hyundai Rally Series.
Mark Hudson and his son Harrison are among the local entrants in the Bathurst Rally's short event.
Hudson would love to see the Bathurst Rally grow to become a bigger and better spectacle on the racing calendar in the years to come.
"Hopefully we can continue to grow this event and make it even bigger," he said.
"We'll be starting outside the Court House and Kings Parade and I think that's going to be a really great sight. We'll be there at 7am and then back at 1pm for servicing.
"With motorsport being what it is in Bathurst it's really great having a different series here. This will be a state championship round, which is just one grade under an ARC round.
"Harrison and I will be running both of our Subarus and we're really looking forward to it. It's a big event for us all."