Regional leaders have queued up to urge people to make the most of a rare opportunity this weekend to promote the Wimmera and broader region to the world.
They agree the 2018 FIM Junior Motocross World Championship in Horsham, the first time the titles have been in Australia, represent a rare opportunity.
Horsham mayor Pam Clarke and Wimmera Development Association executive director Ralph Kenyon said broad international media coverage of the event guaranteed priceless promotion for the region.
While Cr Clarke stressed a need for Horsham district people to take on the role of regional ambassadors, Mr Kenyon spoke of the impact hosting such an event could have on future development projects.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy also spoke about the volunteer effort and passion that had been required to bring such an event to the region.
All echoed the sentiments of Horsham Motorcycle Club president Kenny Watts, who encouraged people to impress a global audience of millions by packing out spectator areas at Dooen Recreation Reserve.
“We need to be there in force. We want to get 5000 people out there so the atmosphere matches the quality of the event,” he said.
“Our message to the Wimmera community is don’t let a chance to see something like this slip because we will never get the opportunity again to host the world championships.
“It is the rarest of opportunities for people to see the burgeoning superstars of international motorsport – in Horsham.
“We’re going to be beamed all around the world and the name ‘Dooen’ will become synonymous with motocross and the best junior motocross riders on the planet. It is going to be worth being there.”
Mr Watts said the event, estimated to be a $500,000 enterprise, had been four years in the making.
“It’s going to be awesome. Can you please pinch me so I know it’s not a dream,” he said.
Mr Kenyon said the event, on Saturday and Sunday and featuring 120 riders from 23 different countries, was a profound opportunity for the Wimmera to gain recognition on the international stage.
“It raises our profile with the international community and says we are capable of hosting international events,” Mr Kenyon said.
“It reinforces the ability of the region to be noticed and be taken seriously when making submissions or putting proposals forward for international-scale events.
“It’s great for Horsham to have a facility that can make it onto a world stage and emphasises the importance of having good infrastructure at a local level to allow events to happen.
“It also provides us with an example the role volunteers play in making things happen.”
Cr Clarke reflected on the ability of Horsham Motorcycle Club to win such a prestigious event.
“What a wonderful thing it is. This is a relatively little sporting club – a club that works incredibly hard,” she said.
“To get so many Australian and state championships is an achievement in itself, but getting a world junior championship and breaking new ground for Australia in the process is just amazing.
“This is not just big for Horsham, but also the region. We must ensure we are very welcoming. We need to be the most welcoming place in the world for these visitors so they feel comfortable.
“We’re asking everyone to be ambassadors for Horsham, the Wimmera, Victoria and Australia. This is an honour and something we must embrace.” Cr Clarke said the championships provided an example of why people organising events or planning projects in the region should always aim high.
“I think we sometimes limit ourselves too much when the reality is we run events here extremely well,” she said.
Ms Kealy said it was a credit to the committee and volunteers who managed to transform a local motorcycle track to a world championship circuit.
“It’s astounding – the stuff of movies. The amount of work that has gone into attracting the event to the region, the intense lobbying, the countless hours, the operational challenges – it’s staggering,” she said.
The championships involve competitors racing for their respective countries as well as individual honours in 125cc, 85cc and 65cc classes. Some of the teenage riders involved are already household names in international motocross.