Despite racing at 120km an hour, Rotorua driver Riley Spargo says it is the "chill" people that make kart racing enjoyable.
The 15-year-old Kartsport Rotorua driver is coming off a spectacular season, one that has earned him a place at an Australian event.
The self-proclaimed petrol head took out the junior rotax division of the New Zealand Prokart Series after the final round in Hamilton last week. Riley took an almost insurmountable lead into the final round and his third placing was more than enough to claim the title.
Riley earned four pole positions in the six rounds and set a new lap record at the Tokoroa event in the penultimate round of the series. Riley also placed second in the Goldstar WPKA series which staged events in Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Wellington.
Riley's efforts this season have earned him a place at the Race of Stars karting event on the Gold Coast. The event kicks off the Gold Coast 600 Festival on October 19, which also includes the 13th round of the Supercars Championship.
Riley will race in Melbourne in two weeks to get some time with the same type of kart he will use at the Race of Stars, which is slightly different to what he uses in New Zealand. He says the Race of Stars is a great opportunity.
"I will be meeting a lot of good drivers from around the world and the racing is a lot more competitive."
Along with father Chris and Kartsport Rotorua president Lance Fisher, Riley is investing a lot of time into his sport.
"I love the adrenaline you get out of racing and it is an affordable type of motorsport. The people are chill and Dad and Lance put a lot of effort into my kart. I have been racing for five years and there have been a lot of weekends where we do a lot of laps to get more consistent and then fine tune the car to how I like it."
This is Riley's final year as a junior and next season will move up a class to race against adults. He says he hopes to take motorsport further.
"I would like to race in any competitive motorsport, Supercars would be good."
Riley may not be able to stick around to see the Supercars at the Gold Coast event as he needs to return to sit his NCEA level 1 exams at John Paul College.
Fisher, who also coaches Riley, says success at that level has a positive effect.
"It lifts the profile to see someone not only succeeding at a national level but getting the opportunity to put their name out there on an international level. They are all pretty level-headed kids, especially Riley, it would take a lot to faze him. The international event will give him a new atmosphere to race in."
Fisher says the Rotorua club is in good shape.
"Our club membership is growing, we have 267 members, from all over the country. The main goal is to grow that Rotorua base, out of that we probably have 50 local members.
"The sport is probably on an upward swing, people like Scott McLaughlin, Shane van Gisbergen and Scott Dixon all started with karting and they are helping motorsport gain momentum. They are becoming household names."
"That is where all the skillset starts, it is amazing to see 6-8 year-olds driving around the track at 80km/h."
Kartsport Rotorua will host the second round of the Top Half Series on Sunday, with 140 drivers competing, and racing starts at 9am.
Riley Spargo in the New Zealand Prokart Series:
3rd Palmerston North.
1st Bay of Plenty.