Mini Races Back to Bathurst
Some 40 years on from its win at the Bathurst 500 race at Mount Panorama, Mini returns to Bathurst to lap the famous track on Sunday 8th October 2006. And the Australian who won the race in 1966 will drive a Mini Cooper S once again.
Bob Holden, 74, was partnered by BMC’s Finnish works driver Rauno Aaltonen in 1966. Today, Bob is still competitive, driving Minis and Escorts in circuit racing and rallying and he raced a V8 Ute at Bathurst earlier this year.
He’s raced at Bathurst 34 times and is very keen to return to Mount Panorama to drive a 2006 model Mini Cooper S Team Mini racer.
“I am really looking forward to driving a Mini Cooper S at Bathurst again,” says Bob.
“I have never stopped competing and was last at Bathurst earlier this year racing a V8 Ute, but I expect the Mini will feel a little different, especially through The Dipper.
“Winning Bathurst in 1966 was a special moment, especially as I was driving with Rauno Aaltonen, one of the BMC Works drivers.”
“Minis really dominated Bathurst in 1966 and they were always fun to drive on the Mountain through the 1960s, hassling the bigger, far more powerful cars and out-cornering them,” says Bob.
Rauno Aaltonen remembers his Bathurst victory with much delight. The 1966 event was especially sweet for the BMC Works drivers after they had won the Monte Carlo Rally for the third time in a row - claiming first, second and third placings - only to be disqualified on a dubious technicality concerning headlamp globes.
“At Bathurst, we formed a train, three Minis running bumper-to-bumper down Conrod Straight,” Rauno remembers.
“This increased the top speed by 10-15 mph (16-24 km/h). But after a short time the water temperature went up, and one had to come out of the tight line to get some cooling air.
“Bob paid attention to the smallest detail both in technical as well as in tactical matters."
“Bob's recipe was smoothness, soft lines and beautiful treatment of the car, brakes, gearbox and the clutch. I was in total sympathy with this approach as my philosophy was always that smoothness brings speed,” Rauno said.
Bathurst in 2006 will resound to the distinctive cackle of Mini exhausts as hundreds of Mini fans arrive for a weekend of celebration of the 40th anniversary.
The special ‘Mini Conquers the Mountain’ event will draw a large crowd of nostalgic Mini lovers, including some former works and privateer Mini drivers from the 1960s and 1970s.
The weekend kicks off with a gala dinner on Friday night, while the 50 special Classic Minis will be on display outside the National Motor Racing Museum adjacent to the track on Saturday and Sunday.
Joining Bob Holden’s 2006 Mini Cooper S on track for the special parade lap early on Sunday morning will be 50 Classic Minis.
Included in the parade will be a replica of the original 1966 winner, race number 13C, resplendent in one version of the now infamous green paint.
The whereabouts of the original race winning Mini Cooper S is unknown. The car was painted white for its 1967 Bathurst attack, but was later pressed into use as a daily driver, only to be stolen in Sydney. It was never seen again.
In 1966, the mighty Mini Cooper S racers filled the top nine places at Bathurst - a feat unequalled to this day. In all, 17 Mini Cooper S cars took part in the event that year, along with a bevy of class B Mini Cooper models.
Mini Cooper S cars were a staple of the Bathurst Great Race through to the mid-1970s, racing until their eligibility ran out.