Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Fans meet V8 drivers in Benalla

Fans from across Victoria raced to Benalla last week to meet their favourite V8 Supercar drivers ahead of the weekend’s racing at Winton.

MONIQUE FREER April 11, 2014 8:58am

Signing excitement: Jac and Oskar Green proudly show off their autographs at Benalla’s Drill Hall.

Fans from across Victoria raced to Benalla’s Drill Hall on Thursday night to meet their favourite V8 Supercar drivers ahead of the weekend’s racing at Winton.

Some of the world’s best drivers met fans of all ages, signed merchandise and posed for photographs before they competed in rounds seven to nine of the V8 Supercars Championship Series from Friday to Sunday.

Tanya Cannon and her six-year-old son Russell Finlay made the journey from Lake Rowan for the public appearance and signings, bringing with them a teddy bear covered with signatures.

‘‘He was given to me by a girlfriend of mine that passed away and I’ve had him for the past 20 years,’’ Ms Cannon said.

‘‘I reckon he’s got everybody’s signature on him now.’’

Ms Cannon said having the V8 Supercar Series in regional Victoria made it more accessible for locals.

‘‘I would never go if it was too far away, but being at Winton it’s easy travel,’’ she said.

‘‘I’ve been going for the last five years. I love the thrill, and the spills.’’

Geoff Sillett travelled from Gembrook for the event, and made a special Jamie Whincup poster that he had signed by the Red Bull Racing Australia driver.

‘‘I’ve been staying overnight for the last four years, I just love it,’’ Mr Sillett said.

‘‘I’ve been collecting autographs of the V8s (driver) for 40 years.’’

Australian motorsport legend and Red Bull Racing driver Craig Lowndes said the races at Winton always attracted a large crowd.

‘‘We go to Phillip Island — and Phillip Island’s a completely different style of track, but you struggle to get a crowd. We come here and get a really warm reception, it’s fantastic to see all the locals come out and support what hopefully is one of the biggest events happening around here,’’ Mr Lowndes said.

‘‘History here has been a little bit up and down but it’s a track that I know really well.’’

Erebus Motorsport driver Will Davison said returning to Winton Motor Raceway was important in maintaining the sport’s history.

‘‘Winton is really one of the true places of Australian motor racing, it’s rural Victoria and it’s (got) so much history,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve come here many, many times and obviously raced here in the V8s since 2006. It’s different to some places we go but it certainly has its challenges, it’s very tight and twisty.

‘‘I sum it up by saying that it rewards a good car set-up and punishes a bad one.’’

See page 36 of this week's Ensign for more V8 Supercars Championship Series coverage.

Race day pictures by Judi McDonald.

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