Officials celebrate 50 years of volunteering at Bathurst 1000

Wednesday 18 October, 2023
Sid Herold (pictured far left), Stephen Preece (pictured centre left) and Tony Thorne (pictured centre right) all celebrated their 50th anniversary at the Repco Bathust 1000 earlier this year.
This year's Bathurst 1000 proved to be a memorable occasion for many motorsport enthusiasts around the country, with The Great Race celebrating its 60th anniversary.  
And while it has become one of the biggest events on the Australian sporting calendar, it would not be what it is now without the help of the amazing Motorsport Australia officials who have volunteered over the past 60 years.
In 2023, three Motorsport Australia officials celebrated a major milestone of their own as they reached a momentous 50 years of service at the iconic circuit for the annual enduro.  
Stephen Preece, Sid Herold, and Tony Thorne are three dedicated, passionate motorsport officials who have seen all the highs and lows of Bathurst during their half a century of volunteering.
Remarkably, each official has a different story to tell of their unique journey through the world of motorsport. 
For Preece, his journey into motorsport began in high school with a passion for racing, which led him to join the Australian Racing Drivers' Club at 18-years-old.  

Since then, Preece held various key roles as an official, including Clerk of Course for iconic events like the Bathurst 1000, where he first officiated at in 1997, and the Bathurst 12 Hour.
Despite facing challenges in his time, he has always found fulfilment in uniting officials for the famous event every year – with the experienced official's main advice for those rising up the ranks to learn as much as they can along the way.
"Dealing with serious trackside incidents can be challenging, but it is all part of the role. The most rewarding roles are the ones bringing teams of officials together to run a successful event, no matter whether it's the AGP, Bathurst or a club event,” Preece said.
"It's the hard work of a dedicated ‘few’ that benefits the many who compete in the sport, and that the work of all officials is always on a team effort approach.
“This, along with the friendships and camaraderie I have developed within the sport, is what has kept me interested in officiating for so long.
"I hope to have passed something onto the next generation and my main advice to aspiring officials would be to take the time to learn the role you are in, follow the guidance of senior officials and think of the roles you are in as an evolution from one to the other."
Thorne’s motorsport journey began in the United Kingdom in 1968 at Thruxton, before later moving to Australia to join the Australian Automobile Racing Club (AARC).
For the 50 years after, he would hold a number of volunteering roles at motorsport events, including Flag Marshal and international training.  

During this time, he has held a variety of roles such as Flag Marshal, Radio Communicator and Senior Sector Marshal, while also having the honour of being an International Formula 1 training provider and assisting officials for Bahrain, Singapore, South Korea, Philippines and Russia Grand Prix event.
Currently the Deputy Chair of the NSW State Officiating Panel, Thorn will be stepping away from the Bathurst 1000 after 50 years having achieved a lot in this time.
While he will no longer be officiating at the Bathurst 1000, he will continue in the sport where he has had plenty of memories that will stick with him, having met some big names along the way.
“Over the years, I have enjoyed several memorable moments,” Thorn said.
“Some of them include being a Senior Sector Marshal and getting Michael Schumacher out of a gravel trap during a Melbourne Formula 1 practice session, or meeting and shaking the hand of Ayrton Senna in Adelaide at a sponsor evening, or having conversations with Peter Brock at the Festival of Speed at Goodwood UK.
“Also, applause from Graham Hill to my flag post on the slow down lap of a UK Formula 2 race and my meeting and speaking with Murray Walker on one of his trips to Australia was also a highlight.
“As I step away from the Bathurst 1000 after 50 years, my legacy in looking back would relate to the level of ongoing training and assessment both as a CAMS and Motorsport Australia trainer and assessor.
“Also, with my roles as Chief and Deputy Chief Marshal, I hope to have contributed to the safety of all officials carrying out their work at motorsport events.
“It is well known that motor racing is dangerous, and over the past 50 years I have seen enormous changes occur both in the development of safety measures introduced both for drivers and officials.”
As for Herold, it was a journey that started with a love for cars and speed at a young age.
After spectating at various tracks with his friends, one day at Amaroo, Herold approached some flag marshals to learn how to join as an official – which he achieved with no issues.

Joining as a flaggie, he worked his way up the ranks before being promoted to the role of Chief Flag Marshal in 2000.
Since the turn of the new century, Herold has either held the position of Chief Flag Marshal or Chief Marshal at every Bathurst 1000 since and has proved an inspiration in helping improve the safety of wellbeing of volunteer officials trackside.
Like Thorne, Herold will end his time as a Bathurst official having made a significant contribution throughout his 50 years.
“I think the most challenging part of being an official is that you have to persevere with all types of weather conditions while you are on duty,” Herold said.
“This is especially challenging at Mount Panorama where you can get all four seasons in one day. I have been through snow, severe thunderstorms, hailstorms, flooding, extreme cold and even some very hot days in my 50 years.
“I have made many friendships throughout though. The motor racing officials community is definitely my second family. Any official that has been around for a few years knows that there is a unique bond between us all.
“In some part, I hope that not only my contribution, but that of all my fellow teammates over the years, is both appreciated and remembered for years to come.
“It has been a pleasure to be an official for 50 years, thank you everyone for being involved and for the memories, the friendships and lifelong memories.”
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