Whangarei's Thomas McLean is ready to return to his home speedway this weekend - fresh from finishing ninth in his rookie year of the Western Springs TQ Midget Championships.
The Whangarei Boys' High School student has spent the past few months travelling to Auckland, putting himself and his three-quarter sized midget racer to the test.
However, this weekend McLean will be tearing up the Whangarei Speedway as part of their club championships.
Whangarei's speedway will be a far cry from Western Springs, though, where he came second, ninth, and 11th to finish off his season inside the top third of this season's entrants earlier this month.
McLean admitted he could have done better in the final race of the series, and finished higher in the field of 27.
He was "pretty happy" with the results on the final night, two weeks ago.
"And being able to finish the feature, we went forward in each race but the first heat."
"After talking to an official we are at the pointy end of the B grade, if not leading it, and hopefully rookie of the year."
McLean has surpassed all expectations for his rookie season in the three-quarter midgets, repaying the support given to him from his family in moving into the new formula of racing.
"Ninth overall for the Western Springs Champs is absolutely awesome," mother Carolyn McLean said.
"These points are based on feature finishes, whereas the TQ points for B Grade are based on heat race results.
"We're confident that he is near the top on points for the B grade but probably won't find out until prize giving."
Also coming up for the young driver is a return to his roots with some competitive karting later on this year and a social visit to St Louis, in the United States, where he will be catching up with friends and associates in the US who have watched and supported his career. McLean and his family recently visited the US to visit established supporters and meet new contacts in a bid to make in-roads into the North American world of oval racing and ultimately NASCAR, for which McLean has aspirations towards.