Mount Panorama residents live the Bathurst 1000 dream despite COVID-19 spectator limits

The pandemic is forcing Mount Panorama resident Shane “Robbo” Robinson to whittle down his guest list for the Bathurst 1000 motor race on Sunday.

“I’ve said no to my sister — she’s going to give it a miss because it’s just too hard to pick amongst the people that really love it,” Mr Robinson said.

For two decades the crane operator has owned one of the 31 residential properties dotted along the world-renowned circuit in central-western New South Wales.

Residential houses on Mount Panorama at Bathurst.
Bathurst’s Mount Panorama-Wahluu has private residences dotted around its world-famous circuit.(Supplied: Raine and Horne Bathurst)

Mr Robinson said he would usually greet up to a 1000 people at his house during the annual four-day event.

But under COVID-19 rules he is restricted to allow only 20 guests at a time.

Supercars has announced a daily limit of 4,000 people to the ticketed event that normally attracts 50,000 visitors per day.

Seating is confined to the bottom of the mountain — known as Wahluu in the Indigenous Wiradjuri language — and public camping is prohibited.

‘Big dream’ residence

Shane Robinson at home in front of Mount Panorama motor race circuit.
Shane Robinson’s house sits on Conrod Straight where race cars reach speeds up to 300 kilometres per hour.(ABC Central West: Luke Wong)

This year Mr Robinson will host a racing team and a handful of close mates at his property.

“It will be a bit of a break this year, and I might get to sit and watch the whole race myself.”

Motor racing memorabilia photograph, cars and trophy.
Shane Robinson regularly hosts race celebrations at his trackside property on Mount Panorama.(ABC Central West: Luke Wong)

A dedicated motorsport fan from a young age, Mr Robinson said living on the world-famous circuit comes with a few perks.

“To pull out onto a racetrack as your address and look at your licence and it says Conrod Straight, it’s a very egotistical thing,” he said.

“I’ve been all over the world, and when you say you’re from Mount Panorama Bathurst, everyone wants to call in and say hello.

Passion for motorsport

Keith Tucker standing in front of replica Holden racing car in front of Mount Panorama sign on hill.
Mount Panorama resident Keith Tucker enjoys restoring vintage vehicles and building replica race cars.(ABC Central West: Luke Wong)

Fellow resident Keith Tucker has been a passionate motorsport fan for four decades.

He said he once postponed a special trip with his wife to attend the Great Race.

Three years ago, he jumped at the chance to snap up some real estate on what he called the “number one race track in Australia”.

“Living on the mountain, it’s like the Vaucluse of Sydney,” he said.

“It is an opulent place to live.”

Keith Tucker leaning on drinking bar inside a shed.
Keith Tucker owns a home and holiday rental property on Mount Panorama.(ABC Central West: Luke Wong)

An automotive engineer by trade, Mr Tucker restores vintage vehicles and builds replica race cars.

He recently installed a virtual racing simulator inside his “man cave” for entertaining guests.

But his four-hectare property, which includes a separate rental unit, has lost tens of thousands of dollars in cancelled bookings during the pandemic, Mr Tucker said.

“It’s had a big impact on our business,” he said.

Life on the circuit

a man with dog standing in front of a tunnel under a road
An underpass beneath the track gives residents access to their properties during race events.(ABC Central West: Luke Wong)

During the five closed-track events held throughout the year, the local council locks barriers across driveways facing the racetrack.

Residents who live inside the circuit access their properties through an underpass beneath the track.

Outside of race weeks, the 6.2-kilometre circuit is a two-way public road with a speed limit of 60 kilometres per hour.

Give way Mountain Straight street signage in the foreground with cars driving along a race circuit.
Outside of race events, the Mount Panorama circuit operates as a regular two-way street.(ABC Central West: Luke Wong)

Mr Tucker said he often witnessed amateur drivers testing their vehicles and the law.

“You’ll get your knuckleheads who’ll get there and push the limits,” he said.

“Cops have a field day here just about every day of the week.”

Bike mechanic Mick Baumberger is another “100 per cent motorsport fan” whose family owns a property on the mountain.

“You go down the front driveway, and you’re like 10 metres away from the cars flying past you,” Mr Baumberger said.

He said the roar of the V8 engines and crowds could become overwhelming, but residents knew what conditions they bought into.

Long view of supercars coming up mountain straight led by car 888 with car 17 second and a long line of other cars .
Mountain Straight on the Mount Panorama circuit is lined either side by acreage properties where people live all year round.(Supplied: Supercars)

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