Kerry Brocas wasn't anyone's pick to win the New Zealand Sprint Car title at Vodafone Speedway Western Springs on Saturday night but he was a popular winner.
The 55-year-old veteran racer stunned more high profile drivers to win the 30-lap feature race and the get his name etched onto the cup for the first time.
Brocas has enjoyed a long and successful speedway career but was considered an outsider compared to the likes of Michael Pickens and Jonathan Allard.
"I have been racing since 1989," Brocas told The Herald. "I ran midgets here for 10 years and had a lot of fun in the 50 lap big races. I have always loved the long races.
"The best I finished was fourth and the worst was 10th.
"I won the Barry Butterworth in the midget car and then I went to sprint cars."
Brocas has been a good, honest toiler in recent times. He would have his moments but wasn't generally able to run at the pointy end of the field to the same degree as some of his rivals. That ability to get the best out of himself and the car in the big races came to the fore again however as he produced an impressive display in the heats to qualify in a strong position for the feature on Saturday night.
He battled Pickens for first place throughout the feature, got in front midway through the race and never relinquished the lead.
"A couple of weeks ago I was running down here pretty good – I won a heat race and ran with Brindle pretty well," Brocas explained.
"I thought a top five was on.
"About half a dozen laps in I was firing the car in like a midget and I was laughing. I knew [Pickens] was such a fantastic driver that he wouldn't screw up so I leaned on him. Then I started following him for a while and got closer and closer.
"When we got to the lap traffic I dived past him.
"I was quite lucky with the yellows – on that last one I just stood on it and pulled a good gap on him, got a good lead and then I rolled off it a bit with five laps to go. It was a better car when I did that."
He received a huge round of applause from the big crowd and was a popular winner in the pits as other drivers stopped by to congratulate him.
"There is nothing I love more than being in my race car," he said. "I just love it.
"My good lady Jenny puts up with me. Every night I come home, have tea, watch a bit of Turbo Channel for half an hour and then I'm in the sheds until 10 or 11 at night.
"I build all my own engines, build all my own cars and I have a good crew that have been helping me out a long time."
Meanwhile the night also proved a success for Auckland driver Jamie McDonald.
McDonald suffered a horrific crash before Christmas that nearly claimed his life. He was lucky to escape with no serious injuries other than a banged up shoulder and a severe concussion.
He was passed fit to race, managed to sneak into the feature through the B main but worked his way through the field to finish fifth.
"Just getting here was great," McDonald said. "To start 13th and come home fifth – we are pretty happy with that.
"I just enjoyed every lap out there and it just feels so good to be back in my car again.
"The body is not 100 percent – just the belts digging into my shoulder – but other than it was pretty good."