The father has wandered ahead of his family and found something he can hardly believe: a short line at Travis Pastrana's trailer and the illustrious motorcycle racer outside, shaking hands and signing autographs.
The young daughter, lagging behind with her mother, can see her father hustling back toward them through the crowd and can tell he has special news.
"I just had my hat signed by Travis," he announces, wide-eyed and with childlike enthusiasm, once within earshot.
The daughter's jaw drops and her face lights up.
"Dad, you can never wash that hat again," she says.
"Oh, I won't," the father replies, cradling the red baseball cap as he might a newborn. "I won't wash this hat -- ever."
A family friend interrupts the conversation, which has turned too sappy for his taste.
"It's beer time, man," he declares. "Let's go back to the trailer and get one before the racing starts."
And so it goes in the pits at Angel Stadium, hours before the widely anticipated season's first THQ AMA Supercross Series event, one of 16 nationally and one of three at the Anaheim ballpark.
Trailers sporting the colors of Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda and KTM line the pits, while mechanics, with riders looking on, are working beneath outstretched tarpaulins on the sleek machines they hope will propel their teams to victory.
Fans old and young, male and female, many of them riders themselves, having come by car, trailer and RV, are on hand hours before the racing begins to mingle with the best in the business.
It's a rare phenomenon, this intimacy between athletes and spectators. The prerace stroll through the pits is, for many, as thrilling as the roaring action inside the stadium.
"We're here because we all ride," explains Yudi Vinograd of Aliso Viejo, who has brought his wife and four of his five children. "We go to the desert and hang out, ride and have a good time, and this is part of it because it's so exciting.
"I enjoy other sports too -- Go Red Sox! -- but this is part of our lifestyle. That's why we like it so much."
As openers go, this is a must-see. Pastrana is taking a break from freestyle motocross, in which he is immensely popular, to concentrate solely on supercross, the stadium version of motocross.
Ricky Carmichael, a successive three-time national champion, has returned after missing last season because of a knee injury. Chad Reed, an Australian, took advantage of Carmichael's absence and won the 2004 title.
Jeremy McGrath, a legend in the sport, has announced a limited comeback after a two-year hiatus, and James "Bubba" Stewart, an African American who dominated the 125cc division, has stepped up to the elite 250 class.
Another story line this day is the weather. It has been raining for days and an ominously dark sky is rumbling yet again. The track will be muddy and the seats wet.
"It doesn't matter. We live for this," exclaims Joe Dunn of Riverside, here with sons Andrew and Matt, and wife Patty. "We follow all the riders, and I'm like a moto-dad. I take [Andrew] to all of his races on Sundays."
Next to them are Chelsea Reed and Rachael Galvin, 12-year-old moto-fans also from Riverside, trying to meet as many riders as they can. Beyond them are dozens of others behind the ropes at the Suzuki trailer, where Carmichael has concluded an autograph session and sought refuge inside, to focus on the impending competition.
They've missed the personable redhead by a few minutes, and while they're disappointed, they understand. Racing is serious business -- top riders can earn more than $5 million a year -- and athletes require preparation time for one of the world's most demanding sports.
The main event in the 250cc division, after practice laps and qualifying heats, is 20 laps around a sculptured dirt track at speeds up to 60 mph, over bone-jarring whoops and bigger jumps that send them soaring as far as 70 feet.
"We all do it so we know how hard it is to ride," says Jesse Garcia of Baldwin Park, here with son Victor, 7, who races a 50cc bike. "For them to ride at this level is a miracle. We'll go out riding tomorrow and three or four laps into a track like that and you're done."
Close by is the Honda trailer, where McGrath has attracted a flock of admirers, many of them dads pointing out to their youngsters the fierce competitor who reeled off seven 250cc championships between 1993 and 2000. Making him even more popular was his humility, a trait now shared by most of the younger riders.
"The cool thing about our sport is that the fans can come and they can get close to us," McGrath says. "They can see us and they can talk to us. They can feel the interaction. We're regular guys. I think one of the things that makes a Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O'Neal so big is that we have no chance of ever talking to the guy."