The international season begins on Saturday night at Vodafone Springs Speedway with the Americans in town to face an experienced and determined Kiwi line-up.

Having won the feature race last weekend, Jamie McDonald will captain the three-strong New Zealand sprintcar team that will go head-to-head with the highly-fancied US team.

McDonald, who has been racing for two decades and will be joined by Daniel Thomas and Michael Pickens, says it is a tremendous honour to be named New Zealand captain.

"This is my chosen sport," he told the Herald. "I like to captain the team - it is as good as it gets for me. I'm very proud."


While there isn't as much strategy to think about as captaining the Black Caps or the All Blacks, there is certainly an expectation to carry the team forward.

"Probably leading by example is the main thing," the 34-year-old says. "Trying to lead from the front and take it to these Yanks. They are the best in the world coming down so to have a chance to foot it with them and hopefully hold our own is exciting. They are professional racers and we are hobby racers - we don't even do half as much racing as those guys do and obviously we don't get paid to do it.

"It is a huge challenge. We are probably not expected to beat them but I just can't wait to get out there in to battle."

One small aspect in the Kiwis' favour is the home track advantage. They will have the local knowledge, the experience of two meetings on the new surface at Western Springs and a vocal home crowd trying to inspire them.

"That is our only little advantage -- it is our own back yard," McDonald says. "The track surface is new this year and we have had two runs on it so I guess that is a small advantage. Those guys race all over America and adapt quickly so I don't expect it to be an advantage for long."

The American drivers are no strangers, either.

"I have raced against all three. Brad Loyet and Kraig Kinser were down just a couple of years ago and we beat them both," he says.

"Craig Dollansky, I have run with a lot in the past - maybe six or seven years ago. I have always finished second to him. He is a guy who has a lot of pace and is a very good driver. I suspect he will be the guy setting the pace over the next three rounds."