March 31, 2021 | General

Bathurst’s most travelled race car returns to the Mountain

Mt Panorama’s most travelled race car is back for the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour with the King himself on board. Backed by Spinifex Recruiting, Peter O’Donnell’s BMW 335i will be carrying promotional material for the 2022 Parkes Elvis Festival which next year will be themed on the King’s 27th film, Speedway.

Parkes businessman O’Donnell will share the car with sports car racer Peter Johnston and car preparer Garry Mennell. It will race in the B1 Class and alongside teammates John Fitzgerald, Scott Turner, and Urs Muller in a Class C BMW 130i.

Tickets, camping and corporate tickets are on sale for the 2021 event now – just click the links to purchase online.


The Elvis Festival is officially endorsed and licenced by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc, the trustees of the estate of Elvis Presley. It will be held from January 5-9 in 2022. The award-winning event attracts 24,000 visitors – doubling the town’s population – and brings $13 million into the local economy. It has over 200 themed events as well as over 50 artists, nationally and internationally, performing across five days.

“The event has a motor racing theme next year and there isn’t a better way to promote it than through a great motor race such as the 8 Hour at Australia’s most famous circuit,” O’Donnell explained.

The BMW may not be an outright contender, but it is Mt Panorama’s most experienced and prolific enduro campaigner, and its days of doing laps are not over yet!

It could well have a finishing record, completed more laps and covered greater kilometres than any other car on Australia’s most famous race track. The venerable coupe has chalked up an amazing 19,577.163 kilometres in practice, qualifying and racing in the 12 hour and 6 hour events as well as competing in support races and other events at the circuit.

Put in perspective, the distance is more than four Sydney-Perth return trips by the quickest road route. It is greater than the journey around Australia on Highway 1 which comes in at 14,500kms –the longest continuous national highway in the world, surpassing the Trans-Siberian Highway (over 11,000kms) and the Trans-Canada Highway (8,030kms).

The kilometres travelled are greater than the journey between the North and South Poles, by a considerable five and half thousand kilometres, give or take a couple of klicks. It is also just short of the half the world circumference of 40,075 kilometres.

This BMW won the 12-hour race twice outright (when it was a production car event) and has backed up with four class victories. In all, the various driving crews have stood on the podium as a place-getter in nine of the 11 contested 12 Hours.

The car has boasted a who’s who of driving talent in over a decade of Bathurst appearances. They included New Zealand Touring Car and Australian Carrera Cup Champion Craig Baird, four-time Australian Champion (in touring cars, sports cars and racing cars) and Bathurst 1000 winner John Bowe, and three-time Australian Super Touring Champion and Bathurst 1000 winner Paul Morris.

Garry Holt was part of the driving line-up in the two outright victories and was the man who owned the car at the time. In the four years he took the car to Bathurst, he scored the two outright wins as well as three class victories, plus a third in class with tenth outright. Over the four years the team used just five drivers, with Ric Shaw being the fifth.

Since 2011, the car has been owned and campaigned by Parkes businessman Peter O’Donnell and mainly backed by his company GWS Personnel and more recently Spinifex Recruiting. It didn’t return to an outright podium but did snare five more class results.

In the period from then to now, there has been a larger compliment of pilots behind the wheel. They include O’Donnell himself on six occasions as well as his sons Simon and James, Christian D’Agostin, Matt Hansen, Grant Duffy, Andre Heimgartner, Anthony Gilbertson, Allan Shephard, Kean Booker, Matt Chahda, Steve Devjak, Jake Williams, Will Cauchi, David Cox, Garry Mennell, Bernard Verryt and Steve van Bellingen.

One day it will more than likely join many famous cars at the bottom of the mountain, just off to the side of Murrays Corner in the museum where its history can be retold again and again.