THE Sandown 500 is coming home for its anniversary year.
The V8 Supercars race returns to Sandown this weekend as the lead-in endurance race before next month's Bathurst 1000.
This year is the 50th anniversary of car racing at Sandown and the Sandown 500 will include a variety of races from Friday through to the main race on Sunday.
Sandown executive manager Wade Calderwood said hotels around the raceway were already booked out.
He said Sandown had released a special logo for the this year's event, which was tagged as the V8 Supercars heritage round.
"It was always the precursor to Bathurst so people who love their endurance motor sport will feel like this is a homecoming," Calderwood said.
Some special events have been added to the schedule including a group C and A classic V8s section for 1980s and 1990s Toranas and Commodores.
On the track, Holden's Jamie Whincup and Ford's Mark Winterbottom are fighting for the championship lead with Whincup ahead by one point heading into the race.
Starting grid positions will be determined by two 60-kilometre sprint races on Saturday under a new cumulative qualifying format.
Winterbottom won the 500 in 2006 and he hopes to take home the 200 points which go to the race winner.
"It's going to be a really exciting weekend," Winterbottom said.
"There is going to be some serious racing go down . . . with one point separating us it's going to make for some pretty exciting racing and fans love that."
Disney Pixar's CARS Truck Tour will be on show for children on Saturday and Sunday.
Calderwood also said race officials had relaxed rules on allowing patrons on the viewing mountain to bring approved gas barbecues.
He said barbecues that use charcoal or have open flames would not be allowed and safety officials would check and approve each barbecue before it was allowed to be used.