Rumour and fact swirl like the fog on Mount Panorama as the inaugural Bathurst 24-Hour race zooms toward its entry deadline, but the one that captivates PAUL COCKBURN most involves the iconic Aussie Holden Monaro shaping up against the best the Rest of the World can bring. However, Cockburn's humourous speculation below misses the biggest rumour of all - WHAT ABOUT NICHOLAS CAGE AND THE LAMBORGHINI, PAUL?
HERE'S how to have fun. Say "Guess what I just heard!" to Bathurst 24-hour race PR
Chris Nixon and watch his face drain of all colour. Never fails. Just when he's got the grasp on some small factoid another floodtide of rumour comes roaring through and there goes his storyline all to hell again.
Personally, I like the one about Carroll Shelby bringing a team of grain-fed horsepower to flog around the mountain. A certain thing, I am assured by People In High Places. How close is that one, Chris?
"They sent him a fax."
"Well, he could still . . . " and the look comes back.
I decide to put him at ease. "Oh well, I least I didn't buy the 7-litre Monaro story." His head drops to the desk. See what I mean? Turns out that that one's true.
Mind you, I thought the whole damn 24 heures du Bathurst was one for the pixies until longtime friend (and client), PROCAR Chairman and Nurburgring Tragic Ross Palmer pronounced it to be so. I have learnt, at some cost to sanity over the years, that the laws of physics, commerce and mortal caution are, at most, gentle hints compared to the irresistible force of a Palmer Idea. So a day-nighter around Bathurst it will be. And the world is invited to take a crack at the Monaro Monster. And I, for one, am not going to miss out on this story.
The rumours as to who's stuffing what into far-distant containers yet as we speak are wildly appealing, but I'll wait till the reality-duster's had at least a quick run over them before getting too exercised.
Anyway, for now the local story's quite funny enough. The usual suspects, i.e., most of the pointy end of the Nation's Cup exotifest, are pronouncing themselves well-pleased with the Boss's new idea (as you do) and hinting coyly that only a review of current financial standing lies between them and immediately signing up to give the Mother Gun Monaro the Euro-thrashing it so richly deserves.
Not, of course, that any of them claim to know anything specific about the brute . . . or the strong rumour that Holden Racing Team have released their A-string drivers to pilot it. And in a surprising breach of protocol, not even Holden motorsport PR
Plastic Pemberton has been informed of the exercise. He told me so himself.
But arch-rival John Bowe has seen the plans and the parts and is prepared to orate most impolitely on the subject because the elastic's long-gone in his diplomatic pouch. "The thing's a hot-rod that shouldn't be allowed to run." "It'll be faster than a V8 Supercar - five seconds a lap faster!" quoth he and, in contrast to the poker faces of those trained to caution, goes on to speculate its achievement of Earth orbit after climbing the hill.
None of this, however, is deterring top local team Prancing Horse Racing's Tony Raftis from committing his Ferrari-based squadron to the challenge, piloted by Bowe and others of like calibre, howbeit likely more house-trained. The entry is a smart move. Okay, he may be mortified by the thought of post-race headlines reading "HOLDEN WHOPS FERRARI!!" but, running the most professional team in the league, he knows such publicity would get him more attention than an unchallenged amble could ever arouse - and prime plenty of sponsorship for next year's rematch.
The one that, with any Palmerluck at all, might cover the bases and give us Holden v. Ford v. Rest of the World.
But that's getting into next year's rumours.
We've gotta sort through this one's first and, if that's not going to be a walk in the park, it should at least be fun.