Close-up of the Mountain
By Tony White
Young Grafton go-kart racer Lachlan O'Reilly recently got a chance to taste first hand what it's like to drive on the famous Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst.
The nine-year-old would-be V8 driver will be glued to the TV on Sunday taking in all the action from the annual 1000km race watching the likes of super stars Marcos Ambrose, Mark Skaife, Russell Ingall, Greg Murphy, Craig Lowndes and the other Ford and Commodore hot shots competing on the frightening layout.
While the V8 Supercars reach speeds of 300km per hour, Lachlan's Bathurst experience was at a much more leisurely pace, 60km per hour to be exact, on the public section of the road which becomes part of the racetrack on Bathurst weekend.
None the less it didn't stop Lachlan from barking orders to his 'co-driver,' father Tim.
Like a true racing driver, Lachlan shouted from the back seat: "Clip the ripple strip as you take the apex of the corner."
Excited Lachlan wasn't con- tent with just one lap of Mount Panorama he ordered another lap or two to really soak up the experience.
Lachlan already has two links to the famous racing circuit.
As a go-kart racer in the Midget Class (7 to 11-year-olds), Lachlan competed against Dalton and Tristan Ellery, sons of successful V8 Supercar driver Steve Ellery at the NSW State Kart Titles in Lithgow late last month.
Reaching speeds of 85km per hour, Lachlan finished a creditable 21st against a large field of drivers from around NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
It was during the Lithgow trip that Lachlan encouraged his father to take a trip to nearby Bathurst and also check out the motorsport memorabilia at the museum.
At the State Titles, the unasuming youngster confided in Steve Ellery: "the Mount Panorama track is a lot steeper than what it seems in the game.
"Even the hump down Conrod Straight is like climbing up over a big hill," he said.
In the museum Lachlan was impressed to see the 1947 speedway car that Jack Brabham learned his craft in.
Lachlan's current go-kart took Matthew Brabham (Sir Jack's grandson) to victory in the Midget class at last year's NSW State Titles.
Matthew Brabham is the son of internationally successful sports car driver Geoff Brabham, Bathurst competitor and former winner of the Le Mans 24hr race in France.
Matthew finished third in the Rookie Class at the NSW State Titles this year.