One of south-west's Victoria's biggest sporting events has fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic.
The South West Conveyancing Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic will not run in January 2021 with the 49th edition of the famous race postponed 12 months.
Premier Speedway general manager David Mills said it was a "difficult decision" but one made with the club's long-term interests at heart.
"We are extremely disappointed we have had to postpone the classic," he told The Standard.
"It's an event we've really strived to build up over the last 10 years or so and in particular since 2014 when it went to three nights.
"The financial impact of COVID already on our income stream has been extremely significant and that played a massive factor in the decision about the classic because a lot of the funding that comes in our off-season - memberships, season passes - gets funnelled into major events and helps make it viable.
"If we tried to run a classic given the losses we've already endured with no scope to recoup those finances in any way shape or form in the lead-up to those events...it would be a real financial disaster for the club and put the club's long-term future survival under serious pressure."
Mr Mills said the classic, which attracts more than 10,000 fans to its Sunday night finale each year, needed to be preserved.
"By delaying the 49th classic 12 months it gives us a chance to get the state borders back open, everyone travelling around the country and cars back competing right around the nation," he said.
"If in 2022, the 49th classic had to be an Australian-only event - we'd prefer it not but if it had to be that way - that is sustainable."
The club wanted the 50th running, which will now take place in 2023, to have American representation.
US drivers are one of the classic's major draw-cards.
Premier Speedway last month cancelled its three pre-Christmas meetings, citing state government restrictions on crowds.
Mr Mills said the Allansford-based venue was "striving to complete some sort of race season to build some confidence into 2021-22".
A January 1 meeting remains in the pipeline with classes to be determined.
A two-night event called 50 For 50 is being considered for the classic weekend.
It would run on Friday, January 22 and Saturday, January 23 and involve up to 60 cars from Victoria and potentially South Australia and New South Wales, if borders re-opened in time.
"We have done some sums around what we would require crowd number-wise and competitor-wise to make it viable for the club," Mr Mills said.
"Part of that plan is to run a two-night show in place of the classic which would culminate in a 50-lap final for sprintcars to celebrate the 50th anniversary of us being at the Allansford site.
"It's subject to being able to have 2000 people on the hill and 500 people in the pit area and an allocation of enough officials to conduct event."
Mr Mills said Premier Speedway would keep its loyal supporter base in the loop.
"At this very point in time our calendar remains in place thereafter (January 22) for the rest of the season, however we will continue to do a monthly update and review," he said.
"Easter is still six months away. Who knows, maybe we can finish the year with a bang and the Easter trail is essentially what it's always been."
The classic joins another of the region's major events, the Port Fairy Folk Festival, among activities cancelled for next year because of uncertainty over COVID-19 restrictions.