Mount Maunganui's Baypark Speedway will host the New Zealand Sprint Car Championship in the 2020-21 racing season and the build-up for it starts tomorrow.
Saturday night's 2020 NZ Grand Prix for the winged Sprint Cars sees top local racer Rodney Wood aiming for one of the few dirt track titles that has so far eluded him.
And he's also looking back a week to a frustrating New Zealand Sprint Car Championship bid at Palmerston North to provide some added motivation.
Wood raced to third place at the national title behind last weekend behind Wellington's Jamie Larsen and Aucklander Michael Pickens.
"I qualified well but didn't get a good start to the race,'' said Wood.
"I got squeezed a little at the start and had to yield and just brushed the wall. I wasn't sure if the steering had toed-in a bit and it was a few laps before I got my confidence back in the car and started driving it hard into the turns.
"We got third but with all of that I'm a bit hungrier than ever to get it right this weekend and go two places better than third.''
While Wood has won both the national title and North Island title twice in past years - and also has two GP wins in the Super Stock class - a Sprint Car GP Prix victory has eluded him.
He takes good home track form into the Grand Prix with two feature race wins at Baypark already this season.
The 2019 Grand Prix was won by California teenager Buddy Kofoid at the Riverside track in Invercargill. Kofoid — along with Pickens — is racing at the Chili Bowl indoor midget car event in Tulsa, Oklahoma this weekend so the Grand Prix crown will change hands on Saturday night.
International racers gear up for Baypark Speedway
Larsen has been the form driver in major events this summer with his second New Zealand title win in four years and an International 40-lapper victory at Western Springs in December. But like Wood, Larsen hasn't won the Grand Prix before.
An 18-car field had entered for the GP earlier this week including Auckland racer Daniel Eggleton and Hamilton's Dean Brindle who each have two previous GP victories and Skinny Colson is another previous GP winner with a Baypark success back in 2009.
Reigning North Island champ Stephen Taylor (Wellington) is another leading contender while Aucklander Daniel Rogers was the most recent Baypark winner in the sprint car class a fortnight ago and Tokoroa's Keaton Dahm was sixth at the NZ Champs and has won recently at Western Springs.
Visitors include South Island champ Matt Leversedge (Christchurch) and Cromwell-based Mathew Anderson.
The Grand Prix is a 25-lapper with drivers racing for grid positions through qualifying heats earlier in the night.
The support classes for the Sprint Car GP include the first appearance by the Saloon Cars at Baypark this season along the Formula 2 Midgets which usually race at Auckland's Western Springs plus Stock Cars and Mini Stocks. Racing starts at 6.30pm.