Day one of the biggest week in Australasian motorsport
Bathurst is a funny place. A mystical world where nobody knows how to park a car properly and every building is at least 65 years old.
Not to mention that countless examples of Australia's favourite national marsupial can be seen smushed into the Tarmac all the way down every main road into town. Like a sort of grisly, furry guard of honour.
In the middle of it all of course is that beautiful racing circuit, pumped with some of the most frightening ribbons of bitumen in world motorsport.
I could be cold and suggest that nobody would care a hell of a lot about the Bathurst town if the famous Mount Panorama wasn't here. But I kind of like the place.
This is my eighth trip to the mountain, so the town is starting to look familiar. It's a location that almost looks frozen in time, unmolested by glass-lined skyscrapers and Starbucks outlets on every corner.
Not that I hate Auckland, but there's always something cool about ditching city life for something simpler for a week or two a year.
I'm not alone. Dad sits next to me as we chomp through the three-hour drive from Sydney to Bathurst. 2015 was the first time in 19 years that we hadn't watched Bathurst together. And although this year we'll be on the same landmass, it's unlikely that I'll get to spend any of Bathurst Sunday with him.
And then sleeping in the back seat is Simon Chapman. If you read Driven often enough chances are you'll have skimmed through a few of his articles and ogled a few of his photos.
Our paths crossed some six years ago — him as a kid not old enough to apply for a driver's license and me as a failed university student. Six years later and we're both at Bathurst representing five different media organizations; including the New Zealand Herald and (shameless plug) our own motorsport outlet velocitynews.co.nz.
How all of this reporting spews onto the internet for consumption and critique is something that rarely gets fleshed out publicly, and I think is part of why people can get a dim view of journos.
Our other companion is a rental Holden Captiva, which somewhat predictably takes heavy exception to having its throttle pedal abused. The interior plastics feel like they were sourced from melted floppy discs and the wheezy engine from a Barina.
But it's a largely smooth experience and there's enough room for all our equipment and needless junk, making it perfect for the week ahead.
Not that this week is going to be a holiday. It's one of the curses of this job as a motorsport media whore; many of the people around you simply assume that your entire world is fun times, fast cars, and unforgettable experiences.
And as such, people who were once close friends can become jealous enemies overnight. They don't see the times where you're chained to an office desk or the sacrifices made to get you to where you are.
Not that I'm complaining. It beats working after all.