It is going to be a very different kind of Bathurst 1000 this year with only 4,000 tickets per day on offer due to coronavirus restrictions.
- Around 50,000 tickets per day are sold during the four-day Bathurst 1000 event
- This year, only 4,000 per day are on sale and there is no camping at the track due to COVID-19 restrictions
- Businesses expect a massive reduction in tourists to the town due to the restrictions
The great race’s carnival normally starts days before the climactic 1,000-kilometre endurance race on Sunday.
Event organiser Supercars normally sells 50,000 tickets a day to watch the action unfold at Mount Panorama-Wahluu.
The restrictions mean a dramatic reduction in the number of people visiting the town and a potentially “quite massive” hit to businesses, including The Oxford Hotel.
He said the school holidays, and particularly weekend warriors from Sydney, brought a welcome injection of cash to the town during the pandemic, but it would not make up for an influx of race fans.
“Traditionally, it’s that one week where it picks us up after a cold and slow winter,” he said.
“Winter traditionally is our quietest time, it’s everyone’s quietest time, and then it sort of wakes us up and gets us ready for summer.”
Mr Lyons said he has rostered staff for a rush similar to school holidays, but he was not sure what to expect.
‘No icing on the cake’
Camping is an important element of the Bathurst experience, with thousands of people flooding into campsites on Mount Panorama days out from the start of races.
But this year there’s no camping on the mountain due to COVID-19 restrictions, and ticket holders have been told to find accommodation in town instead.
Elaine Hamer runs a farm stay at Perthville, 7 kilometres from the track, or 2km as the crow flies.
She said normally up to 150 campers stayed in her paddock. This year, she expected no more than 20.
“V8 weekend is usually the weekend where there’s a little bit of icing on the cake as far as the business goes,” she said.
“Certainly it’s going to affect my overall annual income.”
Some of her regular customers, including security guards and members of a race team, are still camping.
She said that helped mitigate the pain of refunding thousands of dollars to other campers.
“Normally you think of nothing else except maintaining amenities, garbage, checking people in, checking who’s driving in,” Ms Hamer said.
Soccer club missing out
The Bathurst City Red Tops soccer club runs a canteen at the top of Mount Panorama, feeding hungry campers with a sausage sizzle.
There will not be any spectators up there this year.
Fiona Prosser said the club will miss out on thousands of dollars of fundraising.
“It helps with families who are disadvantaged financially or have had issues with family violence,” she said.
“It also helps with any kind of uniforms that are required … any kind of equipment, balls, cones.”
Ms Prosser said some of the campers who cannot be at the race this year have created a social media campaign to ensure the money they would normally spend on a steak sandwich still finds a way to the club.
And while the Bathurst 1000 is still going ahead with reduced numbers, other events at the track that the canteen caters for have been cancelled.
“If it continues like this then we are going to be in a bit of strife because we’re a self-funded soccer club,” Ms Prosser said.
The general manager of the Bathurst IGA, Isaac Bernardi, said he was not sure what the impact on supermarket sales would be.
He said the boost was effectively double a normal weekend — particularly for items like alcohol, snacking and finger food, and chairs.
“It’s a spike in revenue the town looks forward to. It’ll be sorely missed if we don’t get the numbers of people attending that we did as previous years,” Mr Bernardi said.
“It’s not just the Bathurst 1000, we operate in a number of towns and there’s a lot of events that have been cancelled.
Watch Brock: Over the Top at 8.30pm Tuesday November 3 on ABC TV+iview