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How a six pack produced one of the great Bathurst 1000 TV openers

THE opening segment of the Bathurst 1000 television coverage – the ‘opener’ – has become one of the cornerstone traditions of the annual enduro.

For TV producers, the ‘opener’ is their Top 10 Shootout lap. Their moment to blend their storytelling skill with the past and present of the event and deliver a few minutes of magic that rev up the audience at home for the big day ahead.

One of the greatest of the genre was produced by 10 Sport for their 2017 broadcast of the ‘Great Race’, featuring Mark Larkham giving an impassioned explanation of a lap of Mount Panorama.

“That was the brainchild of Matty White,” Larkham told the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco.

“I haven’t done much at all in my life or my career, but that’s probably one of the better things I have done and I can’t even put my finger on why it worked so well on that day.”

Although he does concede a six-pack of beer was involved.

Listen to the full episode in the player below!

“Matt didn’t tell me much about what he had planned,” Larko explains.

“He said: ‘I’ve got an idea for the opener, just come down and I’ll tell you when you get down here.’

“We walk into the studio and he’s got this area blacked out with curtains, just a square box about as big as a bedroom with a pane of glass in there.

“He said, ‘Let’s go outside’, and he’s bought a little cooler pack in with six beers in it. So seriously … we had a few beers and just loosened up.

“I could see (what he was doing), he’s smart: he just kept prodding and asking bits like ‘tell me about this’ and ‘if you were talking about the circuit to Mark Winterbottom when he was driving for you, what would you say and how would you say it?’

“So at the end of all of that, after a couple of beers, he said: ‘I just want you to go in there and I want you to talk to that track. Do a lap in your head and just draw whatever as if you were talking to one of the drivers that you were employing back then, how to do a lap of Bathurst. Let’s rehearse one.’”

In the end, the rehearsal became the take that was used in the broadcast.

“They had a little machine there that put those little snowflakes into the air, and I can’t believe it, I just free-wheeled it and that was it; they didn’t do a second take,” he said.

“I don’t know how … but it just worked. And it only worked because he put me in the zone, talking about the things that are important around that lap.

“And of course they cut it up beautifully and it was just a clever idea to do that on a glass pane.

“I’ll probably go to my grave with that as the best bit of TV I’ll ever do. And I’m not saying it’s good – I’m just saying (it’s the best bit) from a personal point of view.”

Watch the full opener in the player below!

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