Hawke's Bay stockcar driver Tony Palmer is eyeing a podium finish at next year's Meeanee-hosted nationals.
Next season will be the last for the 53-year-old self-employed builder after 36 years of racing including 18 seasons in the stockcar class.
"A podium finish would be the ultimate farewell," Palmer said.
There's no doubt the bloke who raced in the streetstock class previously and has given the code so much deserves such a send off. However, Palmer knows it doesn't pay to look too far ahead and his immediate focus is tonight's Thirsty Whale Krusty 500 Best Pairs event at Meeanee. Palmer and his daughter Jemma Palmer will be the only father-daughter combination among the 30 pairs.
This is the fifth edition of the Krusty 500 which is raced in memory of track commentator Mike Wilson's son, Christopher John "Krusty" Keane who died in Australia in 2015. But this will be the first time it has been staged as a pairs event.
Each member of the pair will do two qualifying races each. One driver will do races one and three and their partner will do races two and four with their points added together to decide the top 15 pairs for the final.
Pairs which qualify for the final start from zero points in the final where points from both cars are added to decide the overall placings. The winning pair will take home $3000 and the runners-up $1000. There is also a $500 prize for the first driver to roll someone and if this remains unclaimed it will go to the third placegetters.
Palmer agreed with his daughter that the first two heats could be a little tame but there is potential for carnage in the final.
"Whoever is up there on points after the first two heats will get taken out in the final as per normal," Palmer said.
"It's pretty special to be racing in the same team as Jemma," he added.
Events like tonight's require a certain amount of luck and if the Palmers have sufficient of that ingredient they could finish among the top three pairs.
A 28-year-old embroidery machinist at Stitchery House Embroidery & Screen Printing, Jemma, is in her 11th year of stockcar racing after progressing from the ministock ranks.
"It would be neat to be on the top step of the podium with Dad this weekend. We've been on the podium together before but not on the same step," she said referring to last year's Gisborne Classic where she was second and her father third behind Gisborne's Ben Holt.
A Western Rangers footballer, Jemma, hopes to achieve 1NZ status before her stockcar days end. Earlier this summer she raced at the national championship in Greymouth as well as the New Zealand Grand Prix in Christchurch and the North Island championship in Kihikihi.
"In Kihikihi I was ninth overall after qualifying which was a surprise and a good confidence booster with my new chassis. I had bad luck in Greymouth and in Christchurch I got minced in my last qualifying heat," Jemma recalled.
Her father pointed out there are some quality combinations fronting tonight and Hawke's Bay's Gibson Tout and Whanganui's Dion Mooney will be tough to beat. Other pairs capable of making the podium include Hawke's Bay's Stacey Towler and Palmerston North's Matt Phippen, Hawke's Bay's Regan Penn and Palmerston North's Luke Miers and Hawke's Bay's Brandon Symes and Greymouth's Britney Carpenter.
Tonight's other feature events will be the 18-car Hawke's Bay saloon championship and the East Coast championship for production saloons which is likely to attract 14 starters from throughout the lower North Island. Support classes will be ministocks and sidecars.