MINI back to Bathurst for the 40th Anniversary of its Historic Win
By Mike Hanlon
September 26, 2006
September 27, 2006 It was one of the most famous victories of its era, and both Bob Holden and Rauno Aaltonen remember their Bathurst victory with much delight. The 1966 event was especially sweet for Aaltonen as the BMC Works drivers 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. Forty years on from its epic win at the Gallagher 500 race at Mount Panorama, Holden will return to Bathurst to lap the famous track on Sunday 8 October 2006. Holden is now 74 and still a competitive racer and has raced at the mountain circuit 34 times, driving MINIs and Escorts in circuit racing and rallying and he raced a V8 Ute at Bathurst earlier this year and will drive a new MINI Cooper S at the reenactment.
“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.
“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 the CarPoint-backed racer of Publishing Director Mike Sinclair, and the third 2006 works car driven by a special guest of MINI, along with the 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 Castrol Green paint.
The whereabouts of the original race winning MINI Cooper S are 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 from outside a Sydney nightspot. 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.
In 2006, MINI has recreated a three car race team to take part in iconic motorsport events through the year.
The first event was the gruelling Targa Tasmania in April, followed by Alphera Dutton Rally series in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, as well as Lake Mountain Sprint and Quit Targa West.
Following their anniversary run at Bathurst, the cars will take part in the Mount Buller Sprint in November, capping an exciting and fun-filled season of racing.
The 2006 racers are standard Australian specification road cars with certain luxury items removed, a fully compliant roll cage installed, race brakes, Dunlop race-spec tyres and race seats and harnesses added.
The running gear is almost completely standard, except where modified for safety requirements, proving how easy it is for MINI Cooper S lovers to take to the track or road rally for an authentic and exhilarating driving experience.
As a tribute to the famous BMC Abingdon Competition Department’s race and rally winners of the 1960s, the modern-day Australian racers are painted Chilli Red with White roofs.
Such is the strength of the MINI Cooper competition legacy, Chilli Red with a White roof is by far the most popular colour combination selected by Australian customers.