Dylan Smith has cut a swathe through the motorsport ranks and classes since starting in karts when he was eight.
Now 16, the Orewa College Year 12 student has just won a SpeedSport "Star of Tomorrow" scholarship valued at $50,000 to help him further his goals, which, in the short-term, centre on the Formula First class, racing in an entry level single seater.
Smith says it was a real surprise to clinch the scholarship, and is the 16th driver to be so recognised, after some big names such as Shane van Gisbergen, Richie Stanaway and Nick Cassidy. He has shown himself to be a whiz in the kart and was rookie of the year for the Pro 7 series, not to mention carving it up in the speedway mini-stocks, where he won 24 races at 24 race meets and was a finalist for competitor of the year.
Smith does much of his racing in the south of the North Island, including Wanganui and Manfeild, so this scholarship will ease some of the travel and mechanical costs. His race car is often left in Wanganui, where his grandfather, speedway legend Bob Smith, lives.
"He's such an experienced racer. He's been a big mentor and he's also a mechanic on my car," Smith says.
Racing is deep in Smith's blood.
"When I'm not doing schoolwork, it's ... motorsport, motorsport. It's what I do. It's not a sport or hobby." Weekends are his busy times. Friday afternoon might involve flying or driving south, Saturday can be draining, spending much of the day in his car testing, and then racing on Sundays before a flight home that night. Then it's back to study at school on Monday. November will be a pressure point, in the midst of exams, when the Formula First season will be in full swing.
Smith is not fully turning his back on the mini-stocks or Pro 7 racing, as he says flexibility in motorsport is imperative.
"The main goal is to do well in Formula First. The other stuff will fit in when we can."
The second round of the winter series takes place this weekend.
"All race car drivers want to be at the front, but there's a lot to learn. You have to be [adaptable]. I'm confident, though, of doing well."
Focus on the start line is vital, though Smith admits he has stalled once.
"There's a lot of pressure at the start. You just try and focus on those lights and your clutch and getting the revs at the right number," he says.
Smith knows what he needs to do and how to get his name out there. He has options as to what class he races in. So it might be TRS, Formula 3 and then Europe one day.
But he has shown the passion and potential to make a real go of it.