GOLD STAR HISTORY RUNS DEEP AT MOUNT PANORAMA

14mar1SM(WEB)

THOUGH it remains a Mecca for Touring Car fans, Mount Panorama has also played host to its fair share of great moments for Open-wheel aficionados throughout its 75-year history.

The return of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship for the CAMS Gold Star at this year’s Bathurst Motor Festival will ensure a new chapter will be written into the circuit’s annuals during this year’s 75th anniversary celebrations.

Formula 3 cars made their debut on the Mountain twelve months ago, an event that marked the first time since the late 1960s that a Gold Star race – Australia’s longest continually awarded racing honour – had been held at Mount Panorama.

After several years of planning, the dramatic weekend included two winners from three races and a new outright Mount Panorama lap record of 2m04.6187, set by Queensland driver Chris Gilmour.

Jordan Skinner became the first driver to win a Gold Star race at Mount Panorama in 40 years when he swept to victory in race one last year – the Team BRM driver enthusiastic about his place in history.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be included on the list of drivers to have won a Gold Star race at Mount Panorama – and to be the first to do it in a Formula 3 car makes it even better,” he said at the time.

“Some of the greatest names in the sport have won here; to be on that list is an incredible feeling.”

The long history of the Gold Star begins in 1957, Jaguar driver Arnold Glass becoming the first to conquer the Mountain when he won that year’s Bathurst Gold Star round.

The legendary Lex Davison was the fist two-time winner at the Mountain when he won the second race in 1957 and the only Gold Star race held there in 1958, both times driving a Ferrari 500.

Davison – grandfather of current V8 Supercar stars Will and Alex – would go on to win eleven Gold Star races in his stunning career, as well as the inaugural Gold Star title in 1957.

The great Bib Stillwell would win at Bathurst twice – in 1959 and 1962 – the latter win forming a key part in his inaugural Gold Star title, the first of four he would win.

Stillwell remains one of the all-time Gold Star greats and continues to command the respect of current, young open-wheel ace’s in Australia.

Perhaps the most famous name in Australian racing, Sir Jack Brabham, was the final Gold Star winner at Mount Panorama prior to the series’ return last year.

Driving a Brabham BT31-Repco, he won the 1969 Gold Star round at Mount Panorama, the last official Gold Star race winner on the Mountain before Jordan Skinner won the first of three races held last year, some 43 years later.

Despite Gold Star races not returning to Bathurst post-1969, that didn’t mean it was the end of ‘wings and slicks’ at the circuit.

Perhaps the most famous open-wheel memory occurred in 1979 when Neil Allen set the outright lap record at 2m09.7s, driving a F5000 Lola - his benchmark not be broken by Touring Cars until the late 1990s.

Just 10 different drivers have won Gold Star races at Mount Panorama, including last year’s race winners Jordan Skinner and James Winslow. The Formula 3 Australian Drivers’ Championship will contest two races as part of their season-opener at the Bathurst Motor Festival.

The Bathurst Motor Festival will feature the opening round of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship, NSW Production Touring Cars, Group N historic Touring Cars, Production Sports Cars, Formula Vee and regularity categories, the New South Wales Road Racing Club and NSW Porsche Club.

GOLD STAR WINNERS AT MOUNT PANORAMA - 1957 - 2013

1957 Arnold Glass HWM F2 Jaguar
1957 Lex Davison Ferrari 500
1958 Lex Davison Ferrari 500
1959 Ross Jensen Maserati 250F
1959 Bib Stilwell Cooper T51 Climax
1960 Alec Mildren Cooper T51 Maserati
1961 Bill Patterson Cooper T51 Climax
1962 Bib Stilwell Cooper T51/Cooper T53
1968 Phil West Brabham BT23A Repco
1969 Jack Brabham Brabham BT31 Repco
2012 Jordan Skinner Dallara F307 - Mercedes Benz
2012 James Winslow Dallara F307 - Mercedes Benz
2012 James Winslow Dallara F307 - Mercedes Benz

The Bathurst Motor Festival will feature the opening round of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship, NSW Production Touring Cars, Group N historic Touring Cars, Production Sports Cars, Formula Vee and regularity categories, the New South Wales Road Racing Club and NSW Porsche Club.