Elvis Festival branding makes appearance at Bathurst 6 Hour

START YOUR ENGINE: Parkes businessman Peter O'Donnell will compete in his third Bathurst 6 Hour in his BMW 335i and he's taking Elvis with him this year. Photo: Submitted
START YOUR ENGINE: Parkes businessman Peter O'Donnell will compete in his third Bathurst 6 Hour in his BMW 335i and he's taking Elvis with him this year. Photo: Submitted

Parkes businessman Peter O'Donnell is back for his third Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour and he has the King himself on board this year.

Backed by Spinifex Recruiting, O'Donnell's BMW 335i is Mt Panorama's most travelled race car and will be carrying promotional material for the 2022 Parkes Elvis Festival - which next year will be themed on the King's 27th film, Speedway.

The Elvis Festival is officially endorsed and licenced by Elvis Presley Enterprises, the trustees of the estate of Elvis Presley, and will be held from January 5-9 in 2022.

The award-winning event attracts more than 24,000 visitors - doubling the town's population, brings $13 million into the local economy and has over 200 themed events over five days.

O'Donnell has been racing for 14 years now and will be the lead driver this Easter long weekend, sharing the duties with sports car racer Peter Johnston and car preparer Garry Mennell.

"The festival has a motor racing theme next year and there isn't a better way to promote it than through a great motor race such as the 6 Hour at Australia's most famous circuit," O'Donnell said.

The BMW 335i could well have a finishing record, completed more laps, and clocked up greater kilometres than any other car on Australia's most famous racetrack.

The venerable coupe has chalked up an amazing 19,577.163 kilometres in practice, qualifying and racing in the 12-hour and 6-hour events, as well as competing in support races and other events at the circuit.

"It's a 14-year-old car - that's what we mean by it's the most travelled race car, we've done many races in that car," O'Donnell said.

"We'll be competing in Class B1 (high performance)."

O'Donnell said they'll be up against younger and more modern cars so their main focus is on finishing.

But he did believe they're contenders in their class.

While this is O'Donnell's third 6 Hour, he has driven in six 12-hour races.

The BMW 335i has won the 12-hour race twice outright, when it was a production car event, and has backed up with four class victories.

In all, the various driving crews have stood on the podium as a place-getter in nine of the 11 contested 12 Hours.

The car has boasted a who's who of driving talent in over a decade of Bathurst appearances.

They included New Zealand Touring Car and Australian Carrera Cup Champion Craig Baird, four-time Australian Champion (in touring cars, sports cars and racing cars) and Bathurst 1000 winner John Bowe, and three-time Australian Super Touring Champion and Bathurst 1000 winner Paul Morris.

Garry Holt was part of the driving line-up in the two outright victories and owned the car at the time.

In the four years he took the car to Bathurst, he scored the two outright wins as well as three class victories, plus a third in class with 10th outright.

Over the four years the team used just five drivers, with Ric Shaw being the fifth.

Since 2011 O'Donnell has owned and campaigned the car, mainly backed by his company GWS Personnel and more recently Spinifex Recruiting.

It didn't return to an outright podium but did snare five more class results.

Spinifex is an Australian owned recruitment company with an office in Parkes, as well as Bathurst, Dubbo and Orange, among others.

At the completion of the 6 Hour O'Donnell will be off to the Apple Isle to compete in the 30th Anniversary Targa Tasmania on April 19-24 in his other BMW.

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