Brendon Hartley has won his dream job on nightmarishly short preparations.

But one obstacle New Zealand's ninth Formula One driver won't face in the United States Grand Prix on Monday morning is a driver from the United States.

That's how hard it is to crack this gig, particularly from a country outside of Europe where F1 and its development systems are based.

We should be dancing in the streets over Hartley's call-up to High Speed Glamour World, but it's not the done thing to celebrate on the start line. Still...


Nothing in life is impossible: after all, Donald J. Trump is President of the United States. But a kid from Palmerston North turning an F1 dream into reality in this uber-expensive age? Come on.

I'm not even a particular fan of F1, but when the news burst forth that the 27-year-old discarded by two teams had suddenly cracked the big time with Toro Rosso, it felt like party time.

As various stories have put it, Hartley has risen from the scrap heap, rescued a dream that was in tatters. He kept going, kept the right contacts, kept improving, kept impressing, kept solvent.

Hartley has already won the hardest F1 race - getting a car to drive competitively even if it is only a one race deal for now. For Kiwi sports fans, Hartley will be bigger than Texas in Texas.

Formula One is obscenely expensive, which is what makes Hartley so amazing. Dreams are free, but Formula One certainly isn't.

It is technological warfare on a grand and insanely expensive scale, where you pay ridiculous amounts of money to play.

Veterans like the legendary Scot Jackie Stewart certainly believe it is harder to get a drive than to actually drive. They seem to view modern F1 they way some plane-crazy test pilots of the 1960s viewed NASA rockets and the idea of space chimps.

"Almost anybody can go fast in a Formula One car, if it's a decent Formula One car," said Stewart, a star when F1 had character in abundance, and fatal accidents to match so tragically.

It's all about the folding stuff now, and not folding when the times get tough. In Hartley's case, the latter is better understood for now than the former.

Toto Wolff, a part owner of the Mercedes F1 team where Hartley got one of his earlier breaks, estimated to that it cost $12m to bring a budding F1 driver through the various classes.

That is chicken feed compared to the $50m a season the Venezuela Government's oil and gas company paid Williams so Pastor Maldonado could zoom around F1 circuits a couple of years ago.

Maldonado specialised in crashing and retiring, and now test drives for a non-F1 outfit meaning one less worry for Hartley...and the citizens of Venezuela perhaps.

To return to an earlier point, cost and nationality are not the only reasons there are zero American Formula One drivers.

Americans have a particular love for motor sport which has its roots in the way moonshine bootleggers used to escape detection. A lot of American fans seem immune to the joys of smarty-pants F1 engineering. And they are not alone.

Which doesn't diminish what Hartley has achieved, since the teenager with the well-kept grunge haircut journeyed afar in his mid teens.

Hartley has overcome all sorts of things to get this one-off drive. He hung in there, and made a well-timed phone call to his old Red Bull team - who set up Toro Rosso - a few months ago.

The reward, in Austin, will see Hartley squeezed into a hot can, for the most amazing one hour and forty minutes of his racing life so far.

I keep thinking of the dream, trying to envisage how Hartley will feel on that start line.

Will he see those posters on the bedroom wall and remember those conversations and experiences with his amazing dad Bryan, the former driver and high-performance engine builder.

Will it lead to a permanent F1 drive? Will Brendon Hartley get to love life in the fastest lane?

The last New Zealander to suit up for F1 was Mike Thackwell, from Papakura, in the 1980s. He is always described as hugely talented.

Thackwell loved motor racing "until I saw the inside of Formula One" as he put it to motorsportmagazine. He was unimpressed with the money, politics, sponsors and even - strangely - the improved safety.

Thackwell is a name which rung only a distant bell until Hartley and Google gave him a virtual comeback.

Mike Thackwell is among New Zealand sport's more unusual stories. He prematurely waved goodbye to motor racing and caught a wave, hanging up the helmet to go surfing.

Living the dream, in his unusual case, involved giving up on it.