IT’S been 14 years since Bathurst last had an honorary citizen, but that could be set to change as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Great Race at Mount Panorama.
The achievements of five-time Bathurst 1000 winner Craig Lowndes and his contribution to the region over many years appear set to see his name added to this prestigious honour roll.
Another name being touted as a person worthy of the honour is former Australian Racing Drivers’ Club (ARDC) official Ivan Stibbard.
If either was added to the honour board hanging in the Bathurst Regional Council chambers, they would not be the first motorsport-related names on the list.
In 1981, Peter Brock, Allan Moffat and John Hinxman were all named honorary citizens as well Arthur Blizzard in 1985, following in the footsteps of the first honoree John Reid in 1979.
Mayor Greg Westman said yesterday there were stringent guidelines to be met before someone can be given this highly-prized title.
“The person needs to embody all that’s good about Bathurst and promote the city,” he said. “Certainly Craig Lowndes is a great person and fine ambassador for his sport and his association with Bathurst as a five-time winner of the Great Race makes him an ideal candidate.
“He loves our city and is a regular visitor here to promote young driver-training initiatives.
“And who could forget the international publicity he generated for the city by his association with Jenson Button and the Formula One exhibition drive they did at Mount Panorama last year. You couldn’t buy that type of exposure and the goodwill generated by that initiative.”
Cr Westman said making Mr Lowndes an honorary citizen was something that could be considered ahead of the Great Race in October.
Councillor Ian North agrees Mr Lowndes would be a worthy recipient of the honorary citizen title, but would also like to see Mr Stibbard recognised.
“Ivan did so much work behind the scenes helping make Mount Panorama the place it is today,” Cr North said. “He comes from the administration side of the fence while Craig is in the front line of competition.
“Both fit the bill perfectly and would be worthy of the title for very different reasons.”
Cr North said he couldn’t think of a better way for council to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Great Race.
In June this year Mr Lowndes received the Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his success in motorsport and contribution to the broader Australian community.