A blockbuster field of 124 – including 11 Americans will contest the 44th running of the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic which begins tonight at Warrnambool’s Premier Speedway.
The three-night format kicks off a bumper schedule at the venue, which will have an unprecedented seven nights of racing in the coastal town across the next ten nights.
Drivers have come en masse to Warrnambool from all corners of the country, with a special Australia Day race, and the Australian Championships to follow next week at Premier Speedway.
“It’s a carnival, not a race,” the voice of Sprintcars in Australia Wade Aunger said ahead of tonight’s action.
“It’s the whole event – the breakfast, the fan appreciation day, the concerts – the bonus is it’s an awesome race as well, it’s a great week for the sport.”
The USA contingent is bursting with talented stars, including defending champion Kyle Hirst, plus the likes of Randy Hannagan, Terry McCarl, Kraig Kinser, Jason Sides, Jonathan Allard and Brad Sweet.
“For me the Classic atmosphere is as big as it gets,” World of Outlaws star Sweet said as he prepares for tonight’s racing.
“To win these monster races can really set you way above the competition – if you win a race like this weekend you’ve accomplished something seriously special.”
But it’s another American who will start this year’s event the sentimental favourite.
Six time Classic winner, and Knoxville Hall of Fame member Danny Smith will start his 27th and final start in Warrnambool, 20 years after his most recent win in the prestigious race.
The best of the local hopes are familiar faces – including former Classic winners Brooke Tatnell, Steven Lines, Max Dumesny, Kerry Madsen, Ian Loudoun, plus the likes of Ian Madsen, James McFadden, Luke Dillon, national champion David Murcott and local hope Jamie Veal.
For the third year in a row, the huge field will be split into two across the next two nights of qualifying, ahead of Sunday’s final round of heats, and then the countdown to the $30,000 to win, 24 car, 40 lap final.
Tonight’s headliners include Tatnell, McFadden, Loudoun, McCarl, Sweet, Grant Anderson, new Victorian champion John Vogels and the Madsen brothers.
Aussie Outlaws star Kerry Madsen heads in one of the hot favourites for a fourth Classic, after defending his King’s Challenge title last night at Mount Gambier’s Borderline Speedway.
Speedcafe.com will bring you all of the action from Premier Speedway across the weekend.