Thousands took advantage of the perfect weather to rub shoulders with their favourite drivers at the 47th South West Conveyancing Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic fan appreciation day.
Rochester’s Shane Hutchins brought his two sons Braydee, 13, and Chayse, 8, roughly 300 kilometres to get a taste of the action at Premier Speedway.
And with the two boys wearing matching Rusty Hickman t-shirts, it wasn’t hard to guess who was their tip for the winner.
But while the sprint cars are clearly the main attraction, Shane said his family also takes the opportunity to head down to the beach and check out Warrnambool’s Jurassic Creatures show.
“Warrnambool makes a great family outing for us,” he said. “We come and make it one of our major holidays.
“The kids love it and I've been involved in speedway, so I love it as well. We just enjoy getting out and meeting all the drivers, get some autographs and merchandise.
“We don't get away on too many holidays, so we try to make the most of it when we can,” he said.
Adelaide-based sprintcar driver Jamie Hendry, in Warrnambool with his son Riley, 2, agreed.
“We love coming down here – the hospitality is great and the racing is fantastic,” he said.
“It's just the way the town embraces the sport really...and it's a beautiful part of the world, a nice little get-away for us, with cooler weather.”
Jamie said young Riley had to take a break from the racing on Friday night, but was taking in all the scenes on Saturday.
“Four nights is a little too much for the little man,” he said. “But the boys are super excited and every time they wake up it's Speedway night, so we wouldn't miss it for the world.
“We've been down to the Breakwater and the playgrounds down there, we're always looking out for other activities around town to keep them occupied before the race starts.”
Nearby, Peter Doukas’ sprintcar team was enticing the crowd with sweet offerings. Peter’s mum, Sue, sister Madeline, and grandmother Pam spent Friday night making 100 cupcakes emblazoned with his sprint car, which last a grand total of 15 minutes.
“One of Pete's little fans...all he wanted for his birthday was a cake with Pete's car on it, so that's where the idea started,” Sue said.
“It's to give something back to the fans, because they come to watch and buy the merchandise which keeps Pete going.”
Sue said the Classic is a great asset for Warrnambool.
“I've got four kids and I used to take them to the Swan Reserve, but you'd never dream of the day of having your own son here doing the exact same thing,” she said.
And while local driver Darren Mollenoyux had a night to forget on Friday, crashing out in the second heat, he was all smiles come Saturday afternoon.
“We look forward to the Classic every year and the fan appreciation days are a big part of that,” he said.
“It's a great way to meet fans, sell some merchandise and give away a bunch of posters. I love it – I wish I could do this every weekend.
“We're spoiled at the moment, Warrnambool has really turned it on.
“There's good weather and a good crowd, so hopefully all the fans enjoy it. Most of them are pretty die-hard and they're usually on the hill by 2pm to make sure they a seat.”
Warrnambool driver Grant Stansfield said fan appreciation day is “all about the kids”.
“I've grown up around Speedway my whole life – I just live for it,” he said.
“I'd make every fan appreciation day when I was young and it's good to give a bit back to them these days.”
Lucky for Grant, his childhood idol is still on the scene. “It was Max Dumesny for sure,” he said.
“And it was actually really good to beat him last night,” he said with a grin.