It’s fair to say to say Stephen Hocking has a pretty good attendance record.
The 61-year-old former Warrnambool resident was at the very first Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic, won by South Australia’s Zeke Agar in 1973.
And he’s only missed one Classic since then – 1997.
That year another South Australian, Trevor Green, came out on top, but Mr Hocking was cut down by a case of food poisoning in Mount Gambier and couldn’t recover in time.
“I've been coming to speedway all my life,” he said. “I was born into it.”
The Sprintcar Racing Association of Victoria steward loves nothing more than standing by the fence at corner one, where spectators are so close to the action that he gets home to find bits of rubber and clay speckled on his body.
“The way they put on a show here, it’s fantastic."Stephen Hocking
But Mr Hocking also spent plenty of time getting his hands dirty to make sure everything runs smoothly.
“We do safety checks to make sure they're all ready to go race,” he said.
“And later in the night I'll be out doing scales and that for time trials and then up to the judges' box and make decisions with a couple of other blokes to see if they do anything wrong.
“We monitor the way they're driving and if there's a crash determine who caused it.”
Mr Hocking, who now lives in Camperdown, said in terms of facilities, there’s no better track than Warrnambool’s Premier Speedway.
“The way they put on a show here, it’s fantastic,” he said. “All the people camping out the back there – you don’t see something like it anywhere else.
“I’ve been to watch sprint cars in Knoxville one time...but they don’t have the fanfare we have here with fan appreciation day. I actually think we do it better than them in America, but that might just be my bias.
“It’s a special event.”