It's jet plane one, race car one - at the price of hundreds of litres of increasingly expensive jet fuel.
A1 Grand Prix's Black Beauty - driven by New Zealand star Jonny Reid - became the first race car to scorch down Auckland Airport's standby runway yesterday as it raced an Air NZ Boeing 777.
"It was just fantastic, a mind blowing experience," an exhilarated Reid said after the unusual match-up of the aircraft's brawn versus the car's beauty.
Reid said he was "quite relaxed, enjoying the scenery" as Black Beauty reached 290km/h on the tarmac.
The Boeing 777 had the benefit of a more powerful engine than Black Beauty but was several hundred times its weight. Without baggage or passengers, the jet - used on flights to San Francisco and piloted by Air New Zealand's chief pilot, Dave Morgan - weighed in at 141 tons.
While the figures seemed to put the race car as a clear favourite, several spectators backed the plane in the contest.
"I like aeroplanes - I wanted the plane to win," said spectator Jane Cameron, a Wellingtonian who drove from her Titirangi holiday accommodation to watch. "It was just amazing to see."
In the first race, the aircraft was given a headstart of about 8 seconds and reached about 250km/h before pipping Reid's Black Beauty to the finish and taking off on the wet runway.
In a second clash, the headstart was halved, said Reid, and the car, powered by 30 per cent ethanol biofuel, raced to victory.
"We were running out of revs in the end, pretty much. We were just on the limit all the way down the end but we managed to blow the 777 away in the end."
Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the race seemed to be an "unnecessary waste" and questioned how the footage would boost tourism. "How exactly is that going to improve our image as the most sustainable nation in the world? What do we want to be known for internationally?"
But the main threat to climate change, Ms Fitzsimons said, were daily habits, such as driving to work when environmentally friendly alternatives were available.
Air NZ could not provide details of how much fuel was used in the race and rejected the suggestion that its participation was wasteful.
Captain Morgan said the race would use less fuel than a test flight, which was regularly done after heavy-maintenance checks.
Data from the flight would also add to comparison data for a Boeing "aerodynamic enhancement package" Air NZ planned to trial, which could produce a 1 per cent fuel saving.
A1GP is switching to biofuel at this month's Taupo round.
Air New Zealand is developing environmentally friendly fuel and plans a bio-fuelled test flight.
Crude oil recently rose above US$100 a barrel, prompting Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar to increase international fuel surcharges from January 17.
The simulated race was held to publicise the A1GP at Taupo from January 18. It followed six months of planning. The airport never closed but for the first time in its 42-year history the movements schedule was adjusted to squeeze in the race.
Teams from twenty-one nations will go through the airport on the way to Round 5 of the World Cup of Motorsport, where New Zealand, currently third overall, will look to leap over France and make in-roads into the series lead of Switzerland.