Warrnambool is bustling with thousands of speedway fans for this weekend's 48th South West Conveyancing Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic at Allansford's Premier Speedway.
The event has grown from a two-night show to arguably the world's biggest with more than 100 drivers from Australia and the United States racing for the most prestigious prize in Australian speedway over three nights. Warrnambool is proud to host such an event. Premier Speedway, a volunteer-based club, has worked for decades without government assistance to put itself, the event and the city on the map.
A key feature of the classic is the happy atmosphere and vibe it brings to the city. Part of that is the open-air workshops teams set up each morning near their motels. Fans can watch, mingle and the uninitiated can gain an understanding of what makes the winged machines.
Warrnambool City Council's drive to push sprintcar trucks off the Raglan Parade median strip this week was surprising and short-sighted. The classic injects about $7 million into the economy and the move, according to Cr Peter Hulin, threatens that.
The council needs to embrace the classic and the sport. It needs to be creative and recognise teams in the street are an opportunity to further enhance the city's image as the country's speedway capital.
The feedback to our story on social media, even from non-speedway fans, was negative towards the council. The suggestion of moving trucks to the city's saleyards was a PR disaster for the council and our city.
Locals have come to accept sprintcar transporters in the streets for a couple of days, knowing the teams and fans spend up and help our economy. They also know speedway fans are loyal and spread positive messages about our city across the country and overseas.
The council says it is a state law that police or it can enforce. If there is an issue with trucks on the median strip, why was it not addressed before the event? Why has it been allowed in previous years? What's changed? Another nanny state example? What solutions exist? Why not invite ideas from the public? Don't bite the hand that feeds us.