Famous faces back on the track

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IT is less than a week before celebrations for the 50th anniversary of endurance racing at Mount Panorama gets underway, with off track action beginning on Wednesday and cars hitting the circuit for the first time on Thursday.

The plans for the event are massive. Not only will the racing be highly competitive but some of the most famous names to have ever competed in the Bathurst 1000 will be back at the track.

Trackside fans will have an opportunity to see the likes of Allan Moffat, John Goss, Jim Richards and Spencer Martin jump behind the wheels of their former race cars when parade laps of the circuit are completed on Saturday and Sunday.

As well as that, several of the cars will be on display as part of a Legends Museum, that has been set up in a pavilion behind the pit complex.

There could be a nice symmetry to this year's 50th anniversary celebrations depending on who finishes on top of the podium.

There have currently been 49 winners of the Great Race, so if there is one first-time winner in the car that meets the chequered flag, it will bring up 50 victors.

A win by any of the top four contenders in the championship would ensure that scenario would play out.

Team Vodafone lead drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes have both won multiple Bathurst titles but their co-drivers, Paul Dumbrell and Warren Luff, have not.

For Ford Performance racing, Will Davison won in 2009 while John McIntyre hasn't but on the other side of the garage, it is the unusual situation of co-driver Steven Richards who has tasted victory while Mark Winterbottom hasn't.

There are 11 former Bathurst winners in the field but 2011 winners and HRT pairing Garth Tander and Nick Percat are the only car with two winning drivers.

The retirement from competing at endurance races by Mark Skaife means Russell Ingall is now the most experienced Bathurst 1000 competitor.

He will take part in his 21st campaign, one more than Steven Richards, Greg Murphy and Paul Morris and two more than Craig Lowndes and Steven Johnson.

However Ingall will partner Bathurst debutant and former F1 driver Christian Klien, meaning he isn't part of the most experienced combination. That honour goes to Steve Owen and Paul Morris, the VIP Petfood Falcon drivers have 32 Bathurst starts between them, while Lowndes and Luff have 30.

The story Famous faces back on the track first appeared on Western Advocate.

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