As he eyes motorsport immortality, IndyCar ace Scott Dixon remains a strong advocate for giving more Kiwi drivers a chance to chase their dreams behind the wheel.
On Monday (NZ time), the six-time championship winner will pursue his second victory at the iconic Indianapolis 500 - the showpiece event on the US circuit.
Now in his 21st year, Dixon, 42, trails just AJ Foyt in champion crowns and individual race wins (52) over his career, as he seeks the title that would move him alongside the legendary American.
While he has been joined by fellow Kiwis Scott McLaughlin and Marcus Armstrong on the IndyCar circuit, the 'Iceman' is adamant New Zealand has plenty of other drivers just waiting for an opportunity to show their worth on the sport's mainstage.
"New Zealand has a ton of talent," he told Newshub. "We see it in business and motor racing, but also sports - we have a pretty big punch for such a small country.
"The toughest part of coming out of New Zealand is we are such a small country, so funding is very difficult, especially in motor racing.
"It's exciting to see there are three Kiwis in the championship this year and if we can keep pushing that and getting some young Kiwi talent over here... they dominate, man.
"You see it all the time, whether it's Formula E or endurance racing to Formula One. It's a passion for me, because it's where I came from and I love going home, but if we can get more Kiwis on the world stage, that would be awesome."
This weekend, Dixon will host many of the funders that helped him early in his career, but he admits he was lucky to start at a time, when budgets weren't as big as they are today.
"It is difficult, but it is the format unfortunately," he told Newshub. "There's no real way of getting around it - it's probably become even more biased in current times.
"I was lucky to come through with minimal funding at that period of time. The door opened at the right time, but generally, getting into Formula One is extremely tough right now, because of the funding.
"As I keep saying, we have a tone of talent that can definitely do it, it's just getting those doors to open at the right time."
After dominating Aussie Supercars, McLaughlin has taken a couple of seasons to establish himself as one of the top IndyCar performers, with four races wins now under his belt.
Armstrong came to IndyCar via Formula Two and currently leads Rookie of the Year standings, with a top-10 finish at Long Beach last month.
In July, current Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen will dip his toe into the US motorsport scene, with a much-anticipated NASCAR debut, while Liam Lawson leads Super Formula standings, with a possible F1 seat beckoning.
Nick Cassidy leads Formula E, and Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley have won Le Mans 24 Hours as recently as 2017.
Armstrong has landed in Dixon's Chip Ganassi Racing team, probably an ideal situation for a young Kiwi finding his feet.
"It's been a lot of fun with Marcus," said Dixon. "I've watched him in F2 and the other junior categories for a long time.
"He's taken a slightly different track to the investor group I was with, but there are a lot of common people that mix a lot and I've enjoyed hanging out with his dad Rick.
"It's just nice to have that New Zealand connection again. He's doing fantastically well this year and had some really strong races right out of the gate.
"It's very difficult these days, with the lack of testing, but it's great to have him here and hopefully, he's able to stick around for a while."
Dixon will start Monday's Indy 500 at fifth on the grid, with McLaughlin 14th.
Last year, from pole position for the fifth time, he led for 95 of the 200 laps, passing Al Unser for the record of Indy 500 laps led (665), but incurred a drive-through penalty for speeding in pitlane, which took him out of contention.
Instead, teammate Marcus Ericsson top the checkered flag, with Tony Kanaan third.
If Dixon didn't already know it, the incident confirmed this event as perhaps the most difficult to win on the race schedule.
"For me, it's one of the challenging and most difficult to get everything right for that three-and-a-half hour period for the race, and we've come up short several times," he told Newshub.
"Last year was a very dominant race for our team - lucky Marcus was able to capture that win for his first one - and this year, I think we've got similar chances of winning."2023-05-26T03:01:54Z dg43tfdfdgfd