Invercargill race driver Brendon Leitch has more than just speed racing through his mind when he takes to the track.
The 18-year-old Toyota Racing Series rookie is running his campaign on a shoestring, and knows any damage he does to his car could have a bearing on how far through the series he gets.
Leitch made his debut in the "wings and slicks" at Teretonga Park last weekend, finishing a creditable 10th in the feature race, a good effort considering he'd been struggling with a stomach bug the previous day and had to fight his way up the field from 16th on Sunday.
"I was over the moon. The second day, in the morning, in the wet, sitting on the grid was nerve-wracking. I started 15th on the grid and I didn't know what to expect. Coming down the front the first time there was spray everywhere and you are just going with instinct, you can't see where you are going."
Motor-racing isn't cheap, and the TRS is no exception.
It costs $150,000 to lease a car for the full five round competition, along with a host of other associated costs.
Barring any significant upsets, Leitch has enough money to get to Timaru's Levels Raceway this weekend, and then the final South Island round at Cromwell's Highlands Motorsport Park the following weekend.
Depending on how things are going, he's hopes to make it to one of the two North Island rounds, at Hampton Downs and Manfeild.
Poste Haste, who also sponsor Brendon's brother Damon in the TRS series, have come on board as an engine sponsor, but he realistically needs another $40,000 from a major sponsor to get him through the rest of the series.
"We haven't had any luck at the moment, the economy is terrible out there and everyone is keeping their money in their back pocket," he said.
"The $40,0000 major sponsorship will cover the whole side of the car, race overalls, shirts, it's really good coverage. With it being televised all over the world, it's a pretty good, internationally-recognised series."
Leitch has picked up a job with Scott O'Donnell at HW Richardson Group, working on race cars, and has been putting some of his own money into the campaign.
"At the weekend, we got off to a bit of a shaky start and by Sunday afternoon I had the fastest lap of the race for the first half, until my brother took it off me. I keep getting calls each day with what's happening," Leitch said.
"After the Toyota Racing Series, if it all goes well for me, I'd love to go overseas and become a professional racing car driver. I don't have any specific car I'd like to drive, I just love going on the track each day and just driving down that straight full noise, it's a great feeling."
- The Southland Times