While having yet another Formula One world champion and his son in New Zealand for the annual Toyota Racing Series' five-week blast is great, more important is the fact the series is in its 10th year,
Three-time world F1 champion Nelson Piquet, a Brazilian, is accompanying his son, Pedro, for the regular Kiwi motorsport feast of 15 races over five weekends.
Pedro Piquet is moving up from karting into full-size wings and slicks single-seater racecars this year and is in New Zealand to get valuable experience.
The TRS championship has grown in stature over the past decade to become the breeding ground for potential champions in single-seater racing.
The 2014 TRS boasts possibly the most internationally diverse field ever to assemble for a motor race series in Australasia. Even last year's Australian Formula One Grand Prix grid had only nine different nationalities represented, not the 13 who will take to the track today at Teretonga, Invercargill, for the opening round of the 15-race series.
There are four Kiwi drivers in the field and they are joined by three from Russia, two each from the United States, Switzerland, Australia, Brazil and Britain plus one each from Malaysia, Sweden, Estonia, Singapore, The Netherlands, and Croatia.
A record 19-strong international contingent among the 23-car grid for this year's championship promises tough competition.
As the championship enters its 10th year, the strength of the overseas contingent raises the prospect that the title could be taken for the first time by an international driver. The three returning drivers are Jann Mardenborough, Steijn Schothorst and Andrew Tang who will all be hoping their local knowledge will serve them well.
A succession of star performances from drivers like Daniel Gaunt, Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy has kept the title in New Zealand so far, and the Kiwis in the field will be trying to maintain that record.
The Leitch brothers will have an early advantage in the series, as Teretonga is their home track.
The fourth New Zealander in the field is Te Puke's Michael Scott who contested TRS for the first time in 2013.
Like most young racers he also began his racing career in karting before moving up to Formula First, Formula Ford and on to the premier category. He is balancing his passion for motor racing with university engineering studies.
It's good to see America is following in Europe's footsteps in realising the TRS championship is great experience for young up-and-coming open-wheel racers and two US drivers will be in action over the next five weeks.
Californian Neil Alberico heads to TRS under the Team USA racing scholarship. "New Zealand will be an exciting adventure for Team USA and I am very much looking forward to the partnership between the guys at Victory Motor Racing and the Team USA Scholarship," Alberico said .
"I'm psyched to be in New Zealand to duke it out with some of the best drivers in the world."
The meeting also sees round two of the New Zealand V8 Touring Car championship, with Australian Jason Bargwanna, the defending champion, just ahead of Nick Ross in the point's standing. He pilots a Holden Commodore while Bargwanna is now at the wheel of a Toyota Camry.
"I think we've got the pace so I'm feeling fairly confident," said Ross. "But I've never driven this car in the rain so we don't have a wet set-up for it and I'm praying for sunshine."
Ross also expects Bargwanna's 19-year-old teammate, AJ Lauder, to be an extra threat once he has a little more experience. Problems with his car restricted Lauder's track time in round one at Pukekohe but he showed his ability with a fine third in the final race.
These three drivers are competing in the TLX category for the new-generation cars and there is also a strong entry for the TL class for the original-specification cars. Lauder won the TL title last season and his younger brother, Brad, is aiming to emulate AJ in that class this year. The meeting also sees the second round of the Formula Ford championship, led by Invercargill's Jamie Conroy, and races for NZ Sports Sedans, Sports and Production GT, Southland Clubmans and NZ6 Saloons. Most classes have qualifying and one race today and two races on Sunday.
Toyota Racing Series 2014 Race Calendar
Round 1: Jan 9-12, Teretonga Park, Spirit of a Nation
Round 2: Jan 16-19, Timaru International Raceway, Timaru Herald Trophy
Round 3: Jan 23-26, Highlands Motorsport Park, Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy
Round 4: Jan 30-Feb 2, Hampton Downs, New Zealand Motor Cup
Round 5: Feb 6-9, Manfeild, Feilding, New Zealand Grand Prix (along with the Dan Higgins Trophy and Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup)
2014 Toyota Racing Series entries
Car - Driver - Country - Team
42. Neil Alberico - USA - Victory Motor Racing
56. Levin Amweg - Switzerland - M2 Competition
25. Matteo Ferrer - Switzerland - Giles Motorsport
72. Alif Hamdan - Malaysia - Giles Motorsport
41.Robin Hansson - Sweden - Victory Motor Racing
16. Matevos Isaakyan - Russia - ETEC Motorsport
14. Macauley Jones - Australia - M2 Competition
27. Martin Kodric - Croatia - ETEC Motorsport
26. Denis Korneev - Russia - ETEC Motorsport
88. Brendon Leitch - New Zealand - Victory Motor Racing
87. Damon Leitch - New Zealand - Victory Motor Racing
5. Gustavo Lima - Brazil - M2 Competition
23. Jann Mardenborough - UK - Giles Motorsport
40. James Munro - New Zealand - Neale Motorsport
17. Jordan Oon - Australia - ETEC Motorsport
55. Egor Orudzhev - Russia - M2 Competition
12. Pedro Piquet - Brazil - M2 Competition
7. Matt Rao - UK -Giles Motorsport
66. Martin Rump - Estonia -Giles Motorsport
21. Steijn Schothorst - Netherlands - M2 Competition
53. Michael Scott - New Zealand - Victory Motor Racing
22. Andrew Tang - Singapore - Neale Motorsport
4. Ryan Tveter - USA - Giles Motorsport