Scott McLaughlin returns to Pukekohe Park Raceway next weekend with the V8 Supercars world at his feet.
The reigning champion is sweeping all before him this season. If he stays in Australia – there are inevitable predictions he may take his talents to America – then records will surely fall. Right now, the 26-year-old Kiwi - who lives in Brisbane - is virtually unbeatable in Australasia's elite motor racing series.
Here is the full story of the rise of a young man who put the heartache of a 2017 disaster behind him to emerge as a motorsport colossus.
Let's start with the cars, because McLaughlin has mastered something which is no ordinary racing machine.
Australian Mark Larkham, the former driver and team owner who is now a TV commentator, explains.
"We've had international drivers come here forever, yet with all their talent they struggle in these cars," says Larkham.
"It's all to do with the awkward ways they are intentionally designed and specified.
"They weigh a tonne and a half with fuel in them, with a high centre of gravity, skinny low grip tyres compared to a racing car, low aerodynamics. It's kind of everything you don't want in a race car.
"Add in high rates of horsepower and torque, and you've got this bucking bull to manage."
And yet in a sport where fractions of a second mean everything, McLaughlin has put daylight between himself and the opposition and will start the Pukekohe round with a ridiculously large 573-point lead.
McLaughlin has already won 16 of 22 races this year – the next best is two – equalling Craig Lowndes' season record.
McLaughlin's ability to win pole position says it all – he already has 60 which is second only to the 80 achieved by the 36-year-old Australian Jamie Whincup, who has a record seven Supercars triumphs.
It leaves the sport heralding the emergence of a new legend, to join a touring cars pantheon featuring names such as Whincup, Johnson, Lowndes, Skaife, Brock and Richards.
"Almost flawless" is how Supercars great Mark Skaife describes McLaughlin's performances this year.
Skaife says: "The world absolutely recognises that a champion has emerged. His record at his age is extraordinary. We're watching history."
For McLaughlin, it is a case of living out a dream first imagined as a kid in Hamilton, and then some.
"As a young person, the main thing I ever wanted to do was become a professional race car driver and get paid for what I was doing," he tells the Herald .
"The success hasn't come easy. I've worked hard for it. My family has worked hard for it."
Scott's parents Diane and Wayne have played a huge part – to put it mildly - in his remarkable rise to the top.
Even the family's move to Australia was linked to Wayne's premonition that his son had something very special.
Wayne says: "At his first race meeting at the Oakleigh club (near Melbourne) he blitzed the kingpin there. There was a shine and I knew we had to find a pathway for him. By the time he was 14 we were totally committed."
But it all began long before that.
For Diane, one particular memory reveals her son's fascination with motor racing.
Wayne's particular love is the Bathurst 1000, with all the video recordings to prove it.
Diane says: "When Scott was just a little kid, about five, he would sit in front of the TV and watch back-to-back Bathurst races.
"That was before he even started racing. How long is Bathurst? Six hours? Then he'd do it all again and watch another.
"I just thought he was bored and had nothing else to do. But he'd sit there and analyse it."
Wayne, from Hamilton, and Diane, whose family originated from Te Kauwhata, met in 1988 when he was buying the first vehicle for a fledgling trucking business and she worked at the finance company.
They married the next year, about the time they made friends with a family who were into go-karting.
Wayne and Diane bought karts and raced against each other.
"I've seen people roll from side to side, but never end to end like Wayne did as I passed him at Tauranga one day," recalls Diane.
Go-karting gave way to bringing up a family but Wayne always talked up his wife's abilities.
And it was young Scott's urgings which encouraged her to hop into a kart again for a ladies and mechanics race in Hamilton. She won it, in the rain.
"Scott was so happy to see that I won – 'mum, you can race'," Diane says.
From these seeds has sprouted a remarkable racing career, and one which has involved an enormous amount of family time, money and steely determination.
"It comes from both of us," says Wayne. "I think both of us had hard upbringings. It wasn't easy for us as kids."
Wayne came from a "broken home", his parents splitting when he was 10 years old.
Diane's parents were farmers. When she was four disaster struck. Her father - a talented sportsman who played rugby alongside the great Don Clarke - was left paralysed from the shoulders down after a mystery illness which may have been linked to farm sprays.
Diane's mum Pete (pronounced PeeTee), with four children including a newborn, had to take over the dairy farm.
"There was no ACC then, and dad was in the Auckland and Thames hospitals for six years," says Diane.
"He came back to live in the house when I was 10, and we got a share milker, built a new house. But it just destroyed him…he died 31 years ago.
"Mum had a breakdown – she's just written a book for the family on her life. And the kids have always known about dad's story, we have always kept his memory alive.
"Absolutely I think it has influenced the kids. I have a memory of Scott sitting outside in summertime, singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as a two year old, then saying 'Can you hear me granddad?'"
"Dad's name was Thomas Malcolm Scott…that's where Scott gets his name from."
Scott McLaughlin loved to race, but hated to fly.
Scott was nine when, having instantly established himself as a brilliant karting talent, his parents shifted to Melbourne where they had bought a small trucking firm.
The commitment to Scott's career was in place from the earliest days in New Zealand.
They bought a new go-kart chassis when told their old one would cause bad driving habits. They also packed a trailer for meetings all over the North and South Island so that Scott didn't become a one-track driver.
After the move to Australia, karting took a back seat as they established the trucking business, but after a couple of years the motor racing project kicked back into life.
"I realised it was getting more serious, rather than being fun family outings at the track, when he got a professional mechanic on board for go-karting," recalls Scott's younger sister Samantha.
From Melbourne, the little McLaughlin motor racing team would travel thousands of kilometres by van to places like Townsville. They hired engineer/mentor Robbie Morton and Dale Verrall, a Kiwi, to provide the guidance.
In 2008 alone, they did 35 race meetings from their new home on the Gold Coast.
Diane says: "Scott was terrified of flying. When he was 12 or 13 I'd be putting him on the plane on Thursday he'd be back on Monday. His hands were always clammy. We bought him an iPod and I'd get the Auto Action magazine at the airport for him."
The costs have been extreme and soared when McLaughlin spent three years in the Supercars development series.
They bought the drive, and as Wayne rattles off the numbers and sponsorship shortfalls, it's easy to count $1m of their money.
"It was a big strain, horrific, but you had to find it and we were lucky the business could sustain it," says Wayne.
Even the move to Australia had a lot to do with Scott's career.
"I didn't want to go but we had the business and Wayne said if Scott is going to go anywhere he needs to go there," Diane says.
"I thought 'the kid is only nine'. I thought it was just pie in the sky stuff. Never in our wildest dreams did we think all this was going to happen."
Whatever lies ahead for Scott McLaughlin, Newcastle will always loom large in his mind.
In 2017, the inaugural Newcastle 500 replaced Sydney as the championship finale and became a place where motor racing dreams could be made and broken.
"The track is very easy to make a mistake on, very unforgiving," says Skaife, who helped design it.
"Given Scott's drama in 2017 where he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, it will be a day he will always remember.
"But those things are powerful learnings, and he has been able to rebound."
Newcastle 2017 was a weekend of drama and trauma for McLaughlin. Having stormed to victory in the Saturday race, a finish of 11th or better on Sunday would see him claim his maiden Supercars title.
But a tangle with Lowndes in the final minutes and subsequent time penalty allowed Jamie Whincup to take his seventh title.
Following the 2017 disaster, McLaughlin had prepared for 2018 season by arming himself with a mindfulness coach named Emma Murray.
He found Murray via his mate, the AFL footballer Jack Riewoldt.
"I could see Scott was in a bad spot, really having lost the unlosable," Riewoldt says in the book Road to Redemption .
"It was brutal the way that final race played out…we were all watching on as this guy totally stuffed it up.
"He could have gone into his shell, it could have hurt him forever – people calling him a choker, people saying he's not able to perform on the big stage. I didn't want that."
And boy, did McLaughlin need Murray in the 2018 decider as he battled compatriot Shane van Gisbergen for the title.
"I almost went into a full blown panic attack," McLaughlin says.
"Emma had told me to call whenever I had a problem. But after the 25th call, she had got a bit over it.
"She basically had to yell at me down the phone to get a grip, which was the straighten-up that I needed.
"I looked back on my phone, and it was actually 25 calls. I was flipping out, more so on the Sunday morning.
"After Shane's penalty (in the first Newcastle race), my 70 point lead was the same sort I had the year before. It brought flashbacks I hadn't experienced before.
"I thought I could control it, but I couldn't. I know it sounds crazy, but it was a whirlwind. I'm normally pretty chilled out."
This time he did what he needed to do, and the title was his.
Scott and American Karly Paone will marry later this year. But in McLaughlin's professional life, another woman looms large.
It feels as if Murray has become the final piece in the jigsaw, the relationship which has allowed all those years of dreaming and learning and competing to bear amazing fruit.
Most of their work is done by phone – she lives in Melbourne.
He uses a lot of visualisation and, most importantly, drives to his peak rather than over-reaching, letting the result take care of itself.
He's made other adjustments, telling his team what the car is doing, what he needs to go faster, but staying away from the specific technical aspects.
And it feels as if he is embracing his position as king of the track.
"Without Emma I would feel the pressure more - I used to doubt myself," he says.
"If anything now it fills me with more confidence, being the target, because I know I'm doing a good job.
"I just have to keep working hard, don't take it for granted, try to enjoy it as much as I can.
"I don't want to over-think, over-drive. It seems so simple, but it is so hard to do because you see someone half a second quicker down the road and think 'I should be able to do that'. And sometimes it doesn't work like that – you have to drive to what you have.
"Sometimes, when you have the fastest car, you need to under drive that little bit, or maximise in areas which aren't obvious.
"What corners do I really need to work on? Corners may look good on TV but may not help your lap time?"
McLaughlin said he had amazing family support, but it wasn't just handed to him.
He was allowed to leave school at 16, to race professionally, but had to do a sheet metal fabricator apprenticeship.
"I went to the occasional party but it wasn't the most popular thing to do in my household – it was all about working hard," he says.
"I wanted to party, so it was hard at the time. It took a lot of sacrifices. But they taught me how to be successful, because they are successful business people themselves."
Keep working, keep learning: that seems to be the motto.
Watching his parents always work as a team - they now own a sand supply business near Cambridge - was a lesson in itself.
"Teamwork, doing your specific job right, can help the whole crew," McLaughlin says.
"It's something I've tried to ingrain into the guys I work with. Don't worry about what he's doing, worry about what you're doing.
"If the good things don't happen then we'll just have to work harder. It's a good mentality and something dad used to drill into me, even with the go-karting.
"If I had a good race it was a pat on the back. If I made a mistake, he didn't get into me too much, but said just go figure where you went wrong. It taught me a lot."
But what makes McLaughlin so good?
The move from Garry Rogers Motorsport to the powerful Team Penske – where he acquired the services of legendary engineer Ludo Lacroix - was highly significant, but there is also a special talent within.
While McLaughlin has endured some rather bizarre attacks from rival David Reynolds this year, just about everyone else in the sport is raving about the young Kiwi.
Skaife says: "Clearly he has a very innate natural talent. He lives, sleeps, eats and breathes car racing, and applies himself very, very well.
"That is probably demonstrated by his one lap speed. If you can grab the car by the scruff of the neck and put together 100 per cent commitment laps in qualifying, it stands you in good stead.
"If you start at the pointy end of the field, make a good start, then half the battle is done.
"Maturity, race craft, tenacity and resilience from the disastrous 2017 finish have come to the fore … fundamentally, there are not many chinks in his armour."
Larkham, meanwhile, scoffs at those who point to the Ford Mustang - which replaced the Falcon this year - as McLaughlin's advantage.
"He was winning races in the Volvo … Scott McLaughlin had an ability to win in that car which no one else did. That is particularly poignant."
Larkham reckons that "someone special comes along every decade" and McLaughlin is that man.
"The fact he consistently puts two and three tenths of second gaps over those around him in qualifying – in our world where we measure in 100ths that's a lot," he says.
"The real extra special ones apply themselves very well to their craft and they have a thing as race drivers we all wanted – their internal G metre is just in the right spot.
"Scott is like Jim Richards – he has this wonderful gift, an ability to feel the car, to feel what the rubber is doing with the road at a level higher than others. It's a remarkable thing.
"It's about the receptors under your skin, the muscles that talk to your brain, how your brain talks to your hands, what your depth perception is with the eyes ... it's all that sort of stuff."
Richards, the Kiwi legend who helped pioneer the trans-Tasman motor racing invasion, says timing is as vital as talent.
"Taking nothing away from Scott's ability, because he's got plenty of it, probably as much as anyone," say Richards, regarded by many as the best touring car racer in the world in his day.
"You can be the best driver but if you are not in the right car at the right time, you won't have the same effect. And he's definitely in the right team now.
"The way he drives is not flamboyant. Scott gets the absolute maximum there is to get out of his car.
"It's only hundredths of a second, but you have that unique ability to get that little bit more which is needed for pole position or a race win."
Richards says McLaughlin faces new challenges as the top dog, but believes he will handle them.
He hopes McLaughlin retains his natural character, despite any corporate pressures to present a different face to the public.
"I believe Jamie Whincup is probably the best driver in the sport, by a fraction, but he isn't generally liked in the public," said Richards.
"The reason people don't like him is he's won seven championships, he's won four or five Bathursts.
"Scotty is coming up against that. People are starting to think 'not Ford again, not Scott'. When you are successful people go off you.
"But he's got the right attitude, a lad who can exude the things people love in young guys.
Family has been such an important part of the McLaughlin story, and it has gone full circle.
Younger sister Sam, the ballet loving kid who liked everything apart from motor racing, now helps guide his career. She is a Sydney-based account manager for TLA Worldwide, the sports marketing agency which recently took over his affairs.
And while there will be many hometown fans roaring for McLaughlin at Pukekohe next weekend, the most significant will be 84-year-old Pete Scott, whose tough early life helped shape the family's resolve and thus McLaughlin's rise.
Pete still fills scrap books with cuttings and information about her grandson - some of it posted to her by friends around New Zealand – which she gives to Scott on birthdays.
Pete and friends make the trip from Mt Maunganui to Pukekohe for the Auckland SuperSprint each year.
"They have a wonderful time in the stands, and everyone knows that's she's Scott's nana," says Diane.
"She is Scott's biggest and dearest fan. It's great for mum, and given her a new lease on life."