Rev Garry Coleman OAM has declared this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000 will be his last as Chaplain after more than three decades serving the sport.
A familiar face at the biggest race meeting in Australian motorsport in the last 35 years, Coleman will retire from his important role to spend more time with his wife, Betty.
Coleman has been a regular feature at Bathurst, first taking on the Chaplain duties at Mount Panorama in 1986, serving the Group A and Support Series alongside Ivan Stibbard.
The position has seen Coleman provide pastoral care and general support to thousands of competitors over the years as he become a vital cog of the Supercars family.
“After 35 years travelling to the Mountain from our home in Sydney, it is time I spent more time at home with my wife Betty,” Coleman explained.
“It has been an absolute privilege to serve the motor racing Community for over 35 years (as a) representative of Jesus, offering pastoral care, spiritual support and general people care in this great sport of motor racing.”
Chaplains play a vital role in supporting a number of people involved in each event, particularly in the case of difficult times or critical events. Coleman has also played a key role in the development of Motor Racing Ministries – SCA, with 53 chaplains in motorsport in Australia serving a wide range of categories, disciplines and events.
Coleman’s own journey into Supercars was made possible with support from Wayne Cattach and Tony Cochrane in 2002, where he went on to attend numerous Supercars events for many years.
“A clear highlight is the honour I’ve been given to lead a short prayer before the anthem at Supercar events, mainly at Bathurst, for some eighteen years. These prayers have been a reflection of my heart and my love for this community and a desire for safety and protection for all involved. Based upon my strong trust in the accuracy of the Bible, the historical research on Jesus and my personal relationship with Him.”
“I will miss catching up with so many, many friends met over these years, but I will enjoy free to air TV and Foxtel watching from my own lounge chair.”
While Coleman has been reducing his involvement in Supercars events during recent times, given the increasing difficulties of regular travel, three other Chaplains have been working closely with Coleman and Supercars to ensure the support remains. Ian Young, Charlie Sandham and Steve Peach will continue to provide their important Chaplaincy support to the category in the years ahead.
Coleman will take on final Chaplain duties at this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000, held on 30 November – 5 December at the iconic Mount Panorama.