Hundreds of fans burst into cheers and applause as their favourite Supercars drivers rolled down in their convertibles for the annual Bathurst 1000 Drivers and Transporters Parade on Wednesday.
The crowd had lined up on both sides of William Street, some having travelled from as far away as South Australia and Victoria.
Daniel and Kate Austin drove 14 hours from Adelaide to attend the parade and Sunday’s race.
“It is the kids who are more excited than us,” Mr Austin, who brought his wife and three children to Bathurst for the first time, said.
The Austins are supporting their favourite driver, Walkinshaw Andretti United’s James Courtney.
For some fans, the Bathurst 1000 is a yearly journey.
“I have been coming here for the past 23 years. This is an annual pilgrimage for us,” 55-year-old Peder Lind said.
Mr Lind, who swears his allegiance to Ford cars, has travelled with three other people from eastern Victoria.
But it was an emotional moment for Orange couple Craig and Lani Gouge, who wanted to see veteran Craig Lowndes, of Triple Eight Race Engineering, race for one last time as a full-time driver at the Mount Panorama circuit.
“We last came when Holden’s Peter Brock was retiring in 1996. Lowndes is Brock’s prodigy and retiring. We are a Holden family and everyone from my father to children drive a Holden car,” Mr Gouge said.
The Gouges were disappointed that the traditional rivalry between the Holden Commodores and the Ford Falcons won’t be seen after this year.
Mr Lowndes said he was excited for his last full race.
“We are enjoying the atmosphere and support from the crowd. It is just a great time,” he said.
“I am retiring as a full-time driver at the end of this year, but will come back as a co-driver next year. This is my 22nd year now in full-time and I had a great career. But I still want to do other races, like Le Mans, before I completely hang up my helmet and gloves.”
Fabian Coulthard, driver for Dick Johnson Racing Team Penske, said he loves coming back to Bathurst and was planning to do a track inspection after the signing event.
He believes any driver can win the race, but sees the three Triple Eight cars as their main competitors.
“I am in decent form, but they [Triple Eight] are the ones doing things the best.”