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Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DANNI SHAFIK danielle. shafik@ news. com. au

THE sounds of roar­ing en­gines will be heard across the city from this morn­ing as the Wat­pac Townsville 400 takes off with prac­tice ses­sions at Reid Park.

Be­gin­ning this morn­ing at 7.30, the Townsville 400 is the big­gest sport­ing and en­ter­tain­ment event in North Queens­land, adding a whop­ping $ 20 mil­lion to the econ­omy each year.

Crowd num­bers are ex­pected to reach 140,000, with race fans com­ing from around Aus­tralia and over­seas with ac­com­mo­da­tion fa­cil­i­ties and other busi­nesses to reap the ben­e­fits from the in­flux.

Townsville En­ter­prise di­rec­tor of tourism and events Brid­get Woods said there had been a re­ally strong im­pact from people com­ing into the re­gion.

“CBD ho­tels are have ex­pe­ri­enced strong book­ings for the week lead­ing up to the V8s and we are now see­ing ho­tels on Mag­netic Is­land fill­ing up,” she said.

“We are look­ing for­ward to see­ing the post- event re­sults.”

With a cir­cuit length of 2.86km, the Reid Park course sees driv­ers hit max­i­mum speeds of 260km/ h in their high- oc­tane Su­per­cars.

The Townsville cir­cuit proved to be a chal­lenge in its in­au­gu­ral year in 2009 and has quickly be­come a favourite of the driv­ers.

This year 18- year- old lo­cal fe­male racer Madi­son Dun­ston will be on the track for the first time in Townsville, tak­ing on the Aussie Rac­ing Cars cat­e­gory for her se­cond ever street cir­cuit race.

Ms Dun­ston said she was very ner­vous and could hard- ly be­lieve what she was achiev­ing.

“It’s some­thing I’ve al­ways dreamt of, rac­ing in Townsville, be­cause it’s my home town and that makes it even more spe­cial,” Ms Dun­ston said.

Along with the rac­ing, the event fea­tures some­thing for ev­ery­one with plenty of track­side ac­tiv­i­ties or­gan­ised through­out the three days.

The Dis­ney- Pixar cars pit stop fea­tures ac­tiv­i­ties for all ages, al­low­ing younger fans to be able to see the new- look Light­ning McQueen and Mack the Trans­porter. And race fans young and old can also test their speed at the new Crazy Eights Race­way, or try out the dou­ble- lane in­flat­able slide.

Aussie rock le­gends Jimmy Barnes and James Reyne will be on stage to­mor­row night as rock takes over from rac­ing. The main races will be held to­mor­row and Sun­day at 4.10pm, both over 70 laps.

Tick­ets are still avail­able through Tick­etek or at the gate with prices start­ing from $ 30 for an adult pad­dock pass and kids un­der 12 free.

Pic­ture: ZAK SIM­MONDS

ON TRACK: Triple Eight team mem­bers Jamie Whin­cup, Craig Lown­des and Shane van Gis­ber­gen put the fin­ish­ing touches to their train­ing for this week­end’s Townsville 400 with a run up Cas­tle Hill yes­ter­day morn­ing.

Pic­ture: FIONA HARD­ING

HOME­TOWN GIRL: Aussie Rac­ing Car se­ries driver Madi­son Dun­ston, from Townsville, with her fa­ther Dale.

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