AN iconic voice of the Bathurst 1000 is set to be absent on Sunday – veteran motor racing commentator Will Hagon.
Mr Hagon has been commentating in Australia and the United Kingdom for more than 40 years, but this Sunday is set to be quite different.
He will not be at the Bathurst 1000 for the first time (while he is in Australia), and he said the feeling will be somewhat “funny”.
“Nothing goes on forever,” he said.
“I’ll be busy with the Formula 1. That’ll fill the void. If I was sitting at home twiddling my thumbs, that would be really sad.”
Mr Hagon reflected on his memories of the Bathurst 1000, with his first trip to Mount Panorama coming in 1959.
“[My father] came home from work one day and said, ‘Some blokes are going up to Bathurst on the weekend. Would you like to come?’,” he explained.
“Off we went and it was a black, cold, wet weekend. It was a shocker.”
In 1963, Mr Hagon attended the Armstrong 500, which was the first edition of the Bathurst endurance race after the event was moved from Phillip Island.
“There was nothing like this,” he said. “Motor racing was so different, but there was a lot of interest. That race at Phillip Island created quite a lot of interest that was building.
“I was invited to comment for Channel Seven and from 1965 to 1975, I did 11 Bathurst 1000s.
“Then I went overseas and I was away for ’76 and early ’77.
“When I got back I was thinking what do I do, who do I talk to. I heard Channel Two [ABC] were doing the Castrol 600 bike race, which I last did in ’75 for Channel Seven. I rang ABC and said, ‘I’m your boy’.
“I got into the radio in the 1980s. Late this October would be my 40th anniversary with the ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation].”
This Sunday will not be retirement for Mr Hagon, as he will be kept busy with other motorsport commitments and book writing.
He had a book – Holden: Our Car 1856-2017 – published in August last year, alongside his son Toby Hagon.
While Mr Hagon has now called his last Bathurst 1000, he may have also attended his last Bathurst 1000.
“It may be my last race here. I may not come again next year,” he said.
“I’m going on Saturday morning. It’ll be the first time since October ’59, when I’ve been in the country, that I’ve not been at Bathurst on race day.”
While Mr Hagon will be following the Bathurst 1000 from the comfort of his chair at home, he will also be following the Japanese Grand Prix and the second-last round of the World Speedway Championship on Saturday night.
Throughout his motor racing media career, Mr Hagon was also the motoring editor for The Sunday Telegraph from November 1, 1977 until the end of 1990.
Mr Hagon is somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to the Bathurst 1000.
“Back in my day, you never had red flags, you never had safety flags,” he said.
“People just raced on, yellow flags or blue flags.
“Also, nobody lights out from the start and says, ‘I’ll show you how bloody fast I am. Catch me’. Nobody does that because there’s no point in building a lead because it’ll be taken back from you. That aspect disappoints me.
“Not many people agree with me, but there should be a standalone race. I don’t think it [Bathurst] should be a part of the championship. This race, October, 1000 kilometres, go for it.
“Doesn’t matter where you are on the championship, go for it. Win or bust.
“These people in the race they’ll drive hard, but they’ll have to consider the championship.”