Darcy Hunter wants to stay on top.
Rotorua's 31-year-old stock car driver has already accrued an impressive list of titles during his eight years in the big league including the Bay of Plenty Championships, the Auckland Championships, and the 2002 and 2005 World Invitation Super Stock Championship.
Now the current New Zealand Superstock Champion is gearing up to defend his New Zealand title in Dunedin tomorrow and Saturday.
"This is the big one for me in the new year. I know it sounds funny but this is even more important to me than the World Invitation meeting later in January on the 19-20th," Hunter said.
"I think it's the same for everyone in stock car racing at the moment."
The full time logging truck driver who concedes his job has to take a back seat at times to allow him to get way to race meetings around the country, also has an impressive racing pedigree.
His uncle, Barry Hunter, was a household name in stockcar racing for almost 30 years, winning more than 30 national titles. His father, Darcy Hunter senior, was a competitive driver on the circuit for eight years.
The father, uncle and son trio provide the expertise and mechanical know how to keep Hunter's 435hp vehicle on the track, with sponsors helping to fund the ever-increasing cost of performing at a national level.
The car's new engine alone cost $84,000 in 2003.
"The engine needs to be reconditioned at the start of every season. That costs about $10,000 - $15,000 a time," Hunter said.
"Then there's the tyres and the travelling around to race meetings around the country. Yeah, it costs a bit of money this sport."
Darcy Hunter senior is confident his son has the ability to carry on his winning way.
"He's got a good temperament and he listens to his uncle Barry's advice. He's a driver who perseveres and he keeps focused. He keeps the pressure on other drivers," said Hunter senior.
"Where did he get his skill? I don't know, not from me I don't think."
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