End of the road for trusty Aussie utes

View From the Paddock


View From the Paddock columnist, Peter Lewis.

View From the Paddock columnist, Peter Lewis.

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Anyone with a passing interest in my social media musings will be aware I enjoy motor sport, everything from go-karts to Formula One.

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Anyone with a passing interest in my social media musings will be aware I enjoy motor sport, everything from go-karts to Formula One.

Which means every October I join the revheads’ pilgrimage to Australia's motor racing "mecca" - Mount Panorama in Bathurst.

The annual 1000km endurance classic for V8 Supercars is one of the most remarkable events of its kind anywhere in the world.

For a start, it draws more than 50,000 fans from Australia and New Zealand to a city in central western New South Wales for four days of practice, qualifying and racing.

Judging by the vehicles they drive and the hats they wear, about  half of them stream in from small towns and regional centres across the country.

For 51 weeks of the year, the 6.2 kilometre Mount Panorama circuit is a public road. But every October it's transformed into one of the toughest tests for car and driver in world motor sport.

Indeed, its global recognition was further enhanced on the eve of this year's event by confirmation that one of the mightiest names in racing – the US-based Andretti organisation – would join another heavy-hitter from Indycars and NASCAR, Team Penske, and buy into Australia's premier racing series.

So the good news out of Bathurst is that it would seem another exciting chapter in its chequered history is about to be written.

Yet sadly, we also witnessed the last competitive hit out for V8 utes – as popular in the pits and the paddock at Bathurst and a number of other venues around the country – as they are in the bush.

With it was the distinctive growl of eight-cylinder Holden and Ford engines (or The Note as it’s lovingly referred to by diehards).

It's the end of the production line for these quintessentially Aussie vehicles in a week or so when Holden shuts down the last car assembly  plant in this country.

Next season they'll be replaced by a racing category for the new generation of six-cylinder workhorses – Toyota's Hi-Lux , Ford's Ranger and Mitsubishi's Triton.

By 2019 even the Supercars at Bathurst will have "dropped" a couple of cylinders.

If like me you drive a ute and appreciate its special part in bush culture – enjoy 'em while they last.

 – Peter Lewis, freelance journalist

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