When Tauranga's Steve Cowling clinched the New Zealand Super Saloon Car title at Huntly Speedway last summer his younger brother Chris had the best view in the house.
Steve took the chequered flag with Chris on his bumper as the brothers qualified on the front row and raced to an unprecedented family 1-2 result in their Tauranga-designed and built Pro-X2 chassis cars.
It was the sixth national speedway title won by the Cowling family — their father Maurice has midget car and super saloon titles — and Steve has won both saloon and super salon titles and Chris has two saloon car crowns.
''Winning the title was a dream come true,'' says Steve, who will defend the super saloon crown this weekend at Woodford Glen Speedway north of Christchurch.
''It was great to win in the saloon cars but super saloons are the ultimate. It means a lot to our family and it was great to get my name on the same trophy with Dad.
''There are a lot of big races but the New Zealand Championship means the most because you get to have the number one on your door for the next year.''
There are family bragging rights at stake as the brothers race to raise their title tally.
''It's the first to three now but I'm not sure how Dad would feel about that,'' says Chris.
A contingent of 13 Tauranga drivers are among the 50 wide-tyred, high-powered V8 racers contesting this weekend's championship with favourites split between North and South Island camps.
''There are some really good South Island drivers who have focused their efforts on Woodford Glen this season,'' Steve.
Larsen wins despite broken left-front shock absorber mount
Emotional win for Rogers at Sprint Grand Prix
Mount venue hosts champs in 2020-21 racing season
''The first thing is to get through five heat races on Friday and Saturday unscathed. If you can do that then you should give yourself a good chance of starting in the first two or three rows for the 25-lap feature.''
It's been Chris Cowling who has delivered the winning pace this season clinching the seven round Burger King Pro Dirt Series with three wins, the South Pacific 30-lapper at Baypark and both nights of a January double-header at Woodford Glen that served as a valuable warm-up for the champs.
He says the Woodford Glen oval has some specific challenges.
''It's about the same size as Huntly but turn one and two is wide and open while three and four is a really slow and tight corner,'' says Chris.
''If the temperature is up near the thirties and with 50 cars and two nights of racing the track is going to go slick at some point.''
While his brother has been the form driver this summer it's been a slightly different story for the reigning champ.
''I started off slowly this year while we were trying a different set-up on my car. About six meetings back we changed to last year's set-up and that has brought more pace and confidence,'' says Steve.
After the change, Steve moved up the leader board from fifth to finish second in the Burger King Series.
The depth in the Tauranga challenge runs deeper than the Cowling brothers. Third-generation racer Sam Waddell— runner-up two years ago — has been quick all summer and he won the North Island title in Wellington back in December.
Scott Hayward was a pace-setter throughout the BK Series finishing in fifth place while former champion Brent Emerson and Dan Corrin are also leading contenders.
And there's a new Tauranga hope with 2017 champ Peter Dickson having recently relocated here from Invercargill to work in the Pro-X chassis shop.
The Friday-Saturday NZ title at Woodford Glen is followed by a Blenheim double-header the following weekend that includes the NZ Grand Prix on Friday evening and a round of the Mag & Turbo Super Cup on Saturday.