THE smell of exhaust fumes and burnt rubber swirled in the air at Willowbank Raceway as people from around the country turned up in droves to watch some of the world's fastest vehicles tear down the track.

It was the opening day of the 2013 Winternationals competition, the largest championship drag-racing event in the southern hemisphere and a calendar highlight for revheads everywhere.

The annual event showcases all there is to love about drag racing, from Top Fuel dragsters - the nitro methane-burning kings of the sport - to modified bikes.

The three-day spectacle also serves as the final round for the 2012-2013 ANDRA Pro Series, where the championships will be decided.

To the mind-blowing sound of top-level drag racing, eager spectators watched as the first day's qualifying races took place.

Outside the stadium, driver Greg Clayton, of the Queensland Tyre and Retreading team, was busy making the final mechanical adjustments to his vehicle ahead of the qualifying race.

Mr Clayton said his competition eliminator double-B/altered car had a top speed of 360kmh and held the national record for its race class: a quarter mile in 6.13s.

The racing driver said he had been coming to Winternationals for close to 20 years.

"I just love the atmosphere here as well as the tough competition," he said.

In the stands was Jimboomba mother Mel Holland and her three-year-old son, Chaise.

"My father's a racer so I was brought up coming to these competitions," she said.

"He's racing his Torana this year.

"Now my child is coming to these events and learning all about racing."

Winternationals will continue during the weekend.

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  • Attracts up to 40,000 fans and 500 racers from across the country;
  • Signifies the largest drag-racing event held outside of North America;
  • Was first hosted at Willowbank in 1988.

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