Two decades ago, Cameron Hill was placing his toy cars in perfect lines and telling his grandfather to keep both hands on the wheel of the car while driving.
“We’ve seen him grow up from a toddler, and when he was young and able to crawl, he’d have Matchbox or Dinky cars and he’d line them up while he was crouched on the floor,” Richard Bauer recalled.
“If you touched those cars, there’d be hell to pay.”
Richard and his wife Judith Bauer would also attend Cameron’s go-kart races, but only unbeknownst to him – they found that whenever he knew they were there “he would crash”.
“Cam was a classic wheel nut when he was small,” Richard said.
Their 26-year-old grandson is now Canberra’s very own stake in Australia’s greatest race, the Bathurst 1000, and attended the Royal Australian Mint on Thursday, 28 September, to celebrate just that.
The Mint has released a new limited edition, coloured and uncirculated 50-cent coin to mark the 60th anniversary of the Bathurst 1000. Only 40,000 will be minted, and sold in a special card for $15 each.
“I think the coin looks really cool,” Cameron said, surrounded by his partner, mother and grandparents.
“It’s got a few different shapes of cars throughout the eras, and it’s something I think is uniquely motorsport.”
The ‘Armstrong 500’ race moved to the 6.2-kilometre Mount Panorama Circuit (aka, ‘The Mountain’) in 1963, and grew into not only a 1000-kilometre battleground for millimetre-perfect, V8-powered Holden and Ford supercars but almost a national holiday too.
The coin, designed by Lydia Ashe, depicts six touring cars – one for each decade – sweeping down a particularly challenging part of the circuit, descending from the top of the mountain to the forest. Classic motoring colours of red, white and blue highlight the design.
Mint CEO Leigh Gordon said the goal was to “capture the essence” of one of Australia’s most iconic events, and the legacy of those who have raced there over the years – “fantastic names” like Allan Moffat, Craig Lowndes, Colin Bond and Harry Firth.
“The Bathurst race is an iconic event, certainly in the motor racing calendar, but more broadly in Australian culture too.”
There was already a queue forming out the door for the new coin at the Mint’s Canberra Coin Shop on Thursday, a sure sign of demand.
“We are certainly in a collectible market here,” Leigh said.
“There’s a lot of energy around it and we’re doing what we can to get those coins out to people to put in their collections.”
Cameron is feeling pressure too. He was co-driver in the Matt Stone Racing team last year, but from 8 October will take the wheel of car #35 as primary driver.
“There’s definitely going to be a lot of responsibility, a lot of pressure,” he said.
“Our game plan will just be focussing on what we can control, and if we can minimize our mistakes and be there all day, then there’s every chance we can get a good result. If we’re able to grab the Peter Brock Trophy, it would be a life-changing thing.”
For now, though, it’s about reliving his childhood.
“I remember when I was a young, mum and I – we were always trying to collect all the special coins.”
The 2023 50-cent 60th Anniversary Of The Bathurst 1000 Uncirculated Coin is available for purchase through the Coin Shop at the Mint, as well as Australia Post, NewsXpress and other authorised distributor locations. The limit is one per person as long as stocks last.