When it comes to cars and the Bathurst 1000, chances are you wouldn’t find a bigger fan than Parkes’ own Darcy Emmanuel.
Darcy loves car racing so much, this year’s Bathurst 1000 will mark 40 consecutive years he’s been recording or obtained footage of the Great Race on TV.
He also has 48 years’ worth of the event’s official programs, including the last four of when the race was held over 500 miles and the first four when it became 1000 kilometres – all nicely preserved in frames.
Capturing the moments of the Bathurst 1000 all began in 1981 when Darcy bought a VHS recorder.
“Mum worked at the Parkes Leagues Club and she loved car racing,” he said.
“I wanted to record it for her and keep it so she could watch it a few days later.”
Darcy then began searching for earlier recordings of the race and was given the 1980 race on a VHS tape, and the 1978 and 1979 races on Beta tapes from a man in Western Australia who asked him to convert them to DVD.
“[At first] the only race I didn’t have was the 1980 one because I was there, that was the one Dick Johnson hit the infamous rock on lap 17,” he said.
Darcy almost broke the chain two years in a row when his machine stopped working in 2015 and nearly missed recording the race and in 2016, when his car broke down in Rockhampton.
“I commandeered my niece’s house in Rockhampton and I called in a technician to tune the aerial to make sure it was just right,” he said.
“I was going to buy a DVD burner but the technician told me I didn’t need to because the TV was a ‘smart’ TV.
“As it turned out it was too smart because I couldn’t get it off the TV.”
Darcy spent the next 11 months speaking to every expert he could find to transfer the recording to DVD but ended up finding a copy from someone else.
His collection is all converted onto DVD now.
Darcy proudly outlines details of his collection which includes seven of Peter Brock’s nine wins; all seven of Jim Richards; all six of Mark Skaiffe; all six of Larry Perkins; all six of Craig Lowndes; all four of Greg Murphy; all four of Jamie Whincup; all four of Steven Richards; all three of Garth Tander; and all three of Dick Johnson.
Darcy has spent more time in front of the TV watching the race than attending it, having only gone in person half a dozen times.
But he can talk in length about any historic moment from the Bathurst 1000 and its coverage dating as far back as the 60s.
“In the very early days it wasn’t on all day, it used to be on two hours in the morning, two hours at lunch and only one and half hours at the end and they had breaks all the time,” he said.
“It was on channel two then and you needed a Wagga aerial because it wasn’t on our TVs here – because you were expected to go to it, so they tell me.
“In 1979 the race filming was all done by amateur, volunteer cameramen because the cameramen were on strike...it was incredible...and I have the proof.
“And in the early days you could stand behind the pit wall and there was a risk of a fire every time someone pulled in – now it’s very safe.”
Darcy has a number of favourite memories of the race.
“The 1985 race, that’s when the big V12 Jaguars raced – Peter Brock was coming through the field and finally got up to second,” he said.
“Both of his windscreens were kicked out and he was just driving around with no front or back windows.
“Then he broke the timing chain and he rolled back into the pits.
“It was a very exciting race to watch, to be in the room was fantastic.”
Another favourite of Darcy’s was the 1993 race where Larry Perkins was driving a 5 litre Holden engine and every other driver had a 5 litre Chev engine.
“Perkins was the only one using the old style engine and he still won, and he was a privateer,” he said.
“1995 was another Larry Perkins victory – I’m a big fan of Perkins – he popped the valve on his left front wheel after clashing with Craig Lowndes at the first corner of the first lap - and fought all day from last place to win.
“And 2006, 2007 and 2008 Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup won three years in a row.”
Darcy also remembers the 1997 race well – the year Brock retired.
“It was another win for Perkins, which disappointed many people because they wanted Brock to win with it being his last race,” he said.
“It would have been Brock’s 10th win but he didn’t finish, and Perkins had engineered his own brake pads and didn’t change them all race.
“The following year this was outlawed and they had to have compulsory brake stops and strategy came into play.”
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The story Darcy preserving moments of the Great Race for over 40 years first appeared on Western Advocate.