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Mark Skaife Brock?s death to overwhelm Bathurst 1000


Skaife, who succeeded Brock as Holden's No.1 driver, has found it difficult to accept the death of his mentor and idol in a West Australian rally crash last month.

But a Bathurst weekend without the undisputed King of the Mountain will highlight the huge hole Brock's death has left.

"More than anything else this weekend, the finality of it is more real," Skaife said.

"It's probably now more at the forefront of our minds than it has been, even with the funeral and the memorial service.

"There was an air then that you hadn't really accepted it yet. But when we get to Bathurst and there's such a traditional King of the Mountain status that he had here and so many fans have been up and spoken to us about the same thing, 'I can't believe it, Peter's not here'.

"It's the first race meeting without him. It's very strange, it's quite a difficult thing."

Even in death, Peter Brock dominates the atmosphere at the Bathurst 1000 this year as much as he did on his way to nine victories from 1972 to 1987, including six wins in seven years.

The most popular figure in Australian motorsport will be remembered with a vacant place on the front row of the grid, eight of his nine winning cars taking a lap of the Mount Panorama circuit, a homily, a minute's silence, a video tribute and the inaugural Peter Brock Trophy for the winner of Sunday's race.

And then there are the tens of thousands of tributes inscribed by fans on the wall at the newly named Brock Skyline, the highest point of the mountain circuit which overlooks the track Brock ruled for two decades.

The tributes range from the spiritual: "Lord, Motorsport is our religion, Holden is our God, Brocky was our messiah, Watch over us disciples" and "God has gone to heaven" to the regal "Brocky Still King Always", "Only One King", the contemporary "The Only Australian Idol", the blokey "Onya Mate, Brocky RIP" and even the confused "Brooky".

Brisbane man Darrell McGrath, however, has made the most personal of permanent tributes, with a tattoo of Brock covering his entire back.

"My back's a tribute to the king," McGrath said.

"The man meant the world to me."

Even if all the tributes and emotion overshadow the race itself, Ford driver Jason Bright believed it was only right that Brock's legacy dominated the first event without him.

"It's not going to be an easy event, but rightly so," Bright said.

"It's a major loss for Australian sport, the Australian public and Australian motorsport especially. It deserves to have this respect.

"But at the same time, Brocky would just be saying get out there and do it and not worry about him.

"It's going to be a tough weekend emotionally for a lot of people."

AAP