A large red threat has swept on to the radar of front-running super saloon car teams at Baypark Speedway.
The new US-built car of Hawke's Bay driver Mick Quin set the pace at the opening round of the Burger King Pro Dirt Series on Saturday night.
Quin put his rivals on alert with a stunning 16.004secs lap time in the heat races, qualified on pole position for the feature race and took control of the 30-lapper after battling with Sam Waddell and Chris Cowling.
"Once he was past us it was see you later," defending series champion Cowling said.
"All I could do was try to be best of the rest."
While several Kiwi teams have modified US Late Model designs with varying success, Quin has convinced veteran South Carolina chassis builder Barry Wright to build a car to New Zealand rules.
He tested the car in the US and after two meetings to iron out some teething issues it was the class act of the field at Baypark.
"It's been a good night and it's great to get back on top of the podium. There have been a lot of bad nights," Quin says.
A former double national champion, Quin has explored the Late Model concept with two previous cars and mixed results.
"This is a standard American 4-bar [suspension] car that is changed to suit New Zealand rules in terms of motor placement and some other stuff,'' he said.
Season opener doubles as first round of Super Saloon Series
"We've always known the 4-bar is the way to go. Americans have been running it since the 90s when they first put the coil [spring] behind the axle and the shock.
"We've been averse to it here because people have felt they are no good in traffic. But really there is no problem at all in traffic.
"But it's definitely a different driving style. You have to be a bit more aggressive with them because they are [leaning] over on the right front and lifting up the left rear.
"It's just physics. The more angle is on those bars the harder it is trying to plant the tyres on the ground.''
While Quin ran near the front throughout the race it was the second half of the 30-lapper where he powered clear.
"I was pretty sure the other guys would start to wash out as the track slicked off and I'd be able to drive under them.''
In front by lap 16, Quin was almost four seconds clear of Cowling at the finish.
Scott Hayward appeared to cross the line in third place but was scored a lap down on official results.
The quiet achiever of the Pro Dirt opener was Taranaki racer Joe Ingram.
After a second place in his heat race he won three of his Pole Shuffle duels, started from the second row in the feature and came home in third place ahead of Whitianga's Bodie Abrahamson and national champ Steve Cowling (Tauranga).
Waddell slipped back to sixth after his front running role in the opening laps.
Boyd Westbury drove to a clean sweep in the Six Shooter category chased by Cole Wood and Luke McClymont.