FEATURE: Where the Bathurst dreams began

Michael Caruso

Michael Caruso in action during his karting days

Long before they were stars in the V8 Supercar Championship, the majority of the 58 drivers in this weekend’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 were vying for victories on go-kart circuits.

In the early nineties the likes of James Courtney, Michael Caruso and Mark Winterbottom were ‘banging sidepods’ on karting circuits across New South Wales watched by family and friends. Now they’re ‘banging doors’ with millions of people watching across the world.

When the trio filled the podium at the inaugural Sydney Telstra 500, James Courtney said “Today could have been the Combined District Kart Club Championship in 1992.”

“We all grew up karting together from when we were seven at places like Lithgow, Oran Park and Wollongong.

“Back then we were banging side pods and now we’re banging car doors.”

For Garth Tander, a dual Bathurst 1000 winner, he believes karting is the only place for youngsters to start their motor racing career.

“I learnt all of my racecraft when I was racing karts, there is no question about that,” said Tander.

“You don’t learn how to race in a Formula Ford or a Touring Car, all of your knowledge comes from the purest form of the sport – karting.”

Garth Tander (#51) leading Marcos Ambrose (#33) in the 1992 National Championships at Geelong

Dual V8 Supercar Champion Jamie Whincup has indicated that the interstate rivalry was something that he thrived on during his karting career.

“It was a massive, massive battle between us Victorians and the Sydneysiders. We’d come up here (to New South Wales) and try to knock these blokes off and be very proud that we could take the trophy away from them,” said Whincup.

While the state battles have somewhat disappeared in the V8 Supercar Championship and been replaced by manufacturer and team honours, the heritage of drivers in this weekend’s race makes for interesting reading.

Victorians dominate the entry list with the Garden State boasting no less that 24 starters in the 2011 ‘Great Race’. Six of this group spent much of their formative years as a part of the Go-Kart Club of Victoria (Tood Road) with the Eastern Lions Kart Club, located at Puckapunyal, also appearing as one of the major breeding ground for future stars. Hailing from this club is Whincup and his regular Team Vodafone team-mate Craig Lowndes along with Cameron McConville and the Davison brothers, Alex and Will. One of the country’s longest standing clubs, the Oakleigh Go-Kart Racing Club, has five starters in this weekend’s race.

In New South Wales, the two dominant Clubs on the list of the state’s 13 drivers is the Combined Districts Kart Club located at Lithgow and the Sydney Kart Racing Club, which has been without a track since the closure of Oran Park Raceway.

2011 SUPERCHEAP AUTO BATHURST 1000 DRIVERS – WHERE THEY STARTED

No. Driver Kart Club State
1 James Courtney Combined Districts Kart Club NSW
Cameron McConville Eastern Lions Kart Club VIC
2 Garth Tander Tiger Kart Club WA
Nick Percat Go-Kart Club of SA SA
3 Tony D’Alberto Go-Kart Club of Victoria VIC
Dale Wood Oakleigh Go-Kart Racing Club VIC
4 Alex Davison Eastern Lions Kart Club VIC
David Brabham Griffith Kart Club NSW
5 Mark Winterbottom Sydney Kart Racing Club NSW
Steve Richards Oakleigh Go-Kart Racing Club VIC
6 Will Davison Eastern Lions Kart Club VIC
Luke Youlden Didn’t race karts VIC
7 Todd Kelly Mildura Kart Club VIC
David Russell Lismore Kart Club NSW
8 Jason Bright Gippsland Go-Kart Club VIC
Andrew Jones Albury/Wodonga Kart Club VIC
9 Shane van Gisbergen Kartsport Auckland NZ
John McIntyre Didn’t race karts NZ
11 Greg Murphy Kartsport Hawkes Bay NZ
Allan Simonsen Danish Karting Association Denmark
12 Dean Fiore Eastern Goldfields Kart Club WA
Michael Patrizi Eastern Goldfields Kart Club WA
14 Jason Bargwanna Sydney Kart Racing Club NSW
Shane Price Oakleigh Go-Kart Racing Club VIC
15 Rick Kelly Mildura Kart Club VIC
Owen Kelly North West Kart Club TAS
16 David Reynolds Albury/Wodonga Kart Club VIC
Tim Blanchard Go-Kart Club of Victoria VIC
17 Steven Johnson Gold Coast Kart Club Qld
David Besnard Sydney Kart Racing Club NSW
18 James Moffat Go-Kart Club of Victoria VIC
Matt Halliday Kartsport Auckland NZ
19 Jonathon Webb Didn’t race karts NSW
Richard Lyons North of Ireland Karting Association Ireland
21 Karl Reindler Tiger Kart Club WA
David Wall North Shore Kart Club NSW
30 Warren Luff Didn’t race karts NSW
Nathan Pretty Albury/Wodonga Kart Club VIC
33 Lee Holdsworth Ipswich Kart Club Qld
Greg Ritter Oakleigh Go-Kart Racing Club VIC
34 Michael Caruso Combined Districts Kart Club NSW
Marcus Marshall Gold Coast Kart Club QLD
47 Tim Slade Southern Go-Kart Club SA
Daniel Gaunt Kartsport Auckland NZ
49 Steve Owen Go-Kart Club of Victoria VIC
Paul Morris Didn’t race karts QLD
55 Paul Dumbrell Go-Kart Club of Victoria VIC
Dean Canto Combined Districts Kart Club NSW
61 Fabian Coulthard Kartsport Hamilton NZ
Craig Baird Kartsport Hamilton NZ
77 Grant Denyer Oakleigh Go-Kart Racing Club VIC
Cameron Waters Mildura Kart Racing Club VIC
88 Jamie Whincup Eastern Lions Kart Club VIC
Andrew Thompson Lismore Kart Club NSW
200 Russell Ingall Southern Go-Kart Club SA
Jack Perkins Go-Kart Club of Victoria VIC
888 Craig Lowndes Eastern Lions Kart Club VIC
Mark Skaife Sydney Kart Racing Club NSW

Tim Slade leading Andrew Thompson at the Bolivar Raceway in South Australia. Pic: Paul Carruthers

Tony D'Alberto

Tony D'Alberto started his career as a member of the Go-Kart Club of Victoria. Pic: Simon Adams

Cameron Waters

Cameron Waters, seen here winning the South Australian Championships in 2007, will make his V8 Supercar debut in this weekend's Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. Pic: AF Images/Budd

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