Fresh on the heels of NASCAR legend Tony Stewart's visit to New Zealand Kiwi speedway fans are being treated with current NASCAR star Kyle Larson racing here this week.

The 25-year-old came to New Zealand last summer for a cameo appearance but wet weather ruined any chance of the California native showing off his skills for the local crowd.

One man who was as disappointed about that as any was New Zealand's leading midget driver Michael Pickens, who was looking forward to racing against someone he idolizes.

"In my books he is the best guy period no matter he is driving," Pickens told The Herald. "It is pretty neat to have him down here again and for fans to see one of the best drivers of my era.


"There are other drivers out there that have done amazing things in the past but in my era there is no one like him."

Pickens, who has struggled with his midget by his lofty standards this summer, will captain the New Zealand team in the six-meeting International Midget Series over the next 10 days that includes teams from Australia and the United States.

"It means a lot – it is pretty neat to lead your country into this test series," Pickens said.

"I appreciate the people selecting the team picking me with the results we have had. They obviously have faith in us to get the car running as it should and I will do that. It is taking longer than we hoped.

"We have got a lot of work to do on the midget to get it capable of winning a race.
"We will get there."

Pickens will be hoping some of the success he's had with his sprint car will transfer over to the midgets. The Aucklander was super impressive in the recent International Sprint Car series, where he was pipped for the win by American Shane Stewart.

"We had really good car speed.

"We are pretty happy with the consistency we have had. We had a first, a second and a third so it doesn't get much better than that.


"I am happy for the guys – we have worked our butts off."