Hot topics close

Victory lap for Bathurst 1000 chaplain Reverend Garry Coleman, retiring after V8 Supercars race

This weekend's Bathurst 1000 will be chaplain Reverend Garry Coleman's last after 35 years of supporting officials, drivers, and their families during times of crisis. 

For the past 35 years, chaplain Reverend Garry Coleman OAM has spent every Bathurst 1000 working behind the scenes to support officials, drivers, and their families during times of crisis brought on by racing.

Key points:
  • Reverend Garry Coleman will retire after 35 years of supporting drivers and officials at Bathurst 1000 
  • A support centre at Mount Panorama has been named in the chaplain's honour for his service to the sport 
  • The reverend was involved in supporting teammates of Peter Brock following his death in 2006

Today's V8 Supercars event will be the chaplain's last, with a support centre being opened in his name to recognise his service to the sport. 

Reverend Coleman was first involved in racing when working as a motor mechanic, before attending his first event in 1986 as a pastor. 

"When I first came here, everything was in the back paddock. You had people revving engines and banging panels at two o'clock in the morning," he said. 

"That was a different kind of Bathurst and to see the way it has grown, the way supercars has developed, and to see the way this place has developed is quite amazing."

80-year old Rev. Garry Coleman standing in front of an ambulance and the blue support centre named after him80-year old Rev. Garry Coleman standing in front of an ambulance and the blue support centre named after him
Reverend Garry Coleman was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2010 for his service to the community through chaplaincy and motor racing.(ABC Central West: Hamish Cole)

Through his involvement in motorsport, Reverend Coleman launched the motor racing ministries initiative, which now has more than 50 chaplains supporting racing events across the country. 

"When we started we didn't really know what we were doing, we just wanted to be there to represent Christ but not talk about getting people to church," he said.

"But as we saw it develop we realised we had a pastoral care for people in need." 

'They were under the gun' 

Over the past three decades, Reverend Coleman has been involved in some of the most historic events and crashes in motorsport history. 

"The most critical of those would have been when Peter Brock passed away," he said.

"One of my rally chaplains was on site for that, to look after Peter Brock's family, whereas our track chaplain looked after Peter's co-driver and his girlfriend." 

Reverend Coleman wearing a white shirt while addressing Bathurst 1000, with crowd and drivers in backgroundReverend Coleman wearing a white shirt while addressing Bathurst 1000, with crowd and drivers in background
Reverend Coleman addresses the Mount Panorama crowd following the passing of Peter Brock in 2006.(Supplied: Reverend Garry Coleman)
If you or anyone you know needs help:

Reverend Coleman said he was involved in reaching out to the team owner and engineers who prepared the car.

"They were under a lot of attack, [people] saying that they were the ones who killed Peter because of bad work," he said.

"It was hard to get hold of the team owner because they wanted to cut their phones off because they got so many abusive calls.

"They were under the gun and we just wanted to say we are here and if we can be of any help in the future.

"There is nothing worse than any kind of crisis or trauma for people having no-one there to talk to." 

In 2015, the reverend supported Chaz Mostert and his family after the driver's horrific crash on Mount Panorama. 

"I went to Orange hospital, I was up there with Chaz's mum and dad, sitting outside waiting to see how Chaz was and then discovering how badly broken his leg was."

A smashed up car on the track at Mount PanoramaA smashed up car on the track at Mount Panorama
Reverend Coleman visited Chaz Mostert in hospital following his Bathurst 1000 crash.(AAP: Edge Photographics)

"Our chaplain's role when talking with families in hospital is to distract them, talk about other things, their home, where they live, their family.

"We try to help them relax a bit while they are anxious to find out what happened to whoever was in there." 

Find more local newsTime for retirement 

The 80-year-old said while he was sad to leave the Bathurst 1000, he was honoured to have been involved in the sport. 

"I've been overwhelmed, as one person said last week: 'Thank you, you visited me in hospital and nobody else did', so it has been an honour to do that sort of thing."

"I'm going to look forward to, on Monday morning getting in my car, driving home and saying well that's it, that was the last one and I will watch it on TV from now on."

Similar news