Preparations for the annual New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing at Hampton Downs from January 20-22 are reaching top gear.
Running each year to a theme, the 2017 festival will celebrate one of New Zealand's most iconic competitors, the legendary Ken Smith.
Smith remains a key participant in the Formula 5000 category at the ripe age of 75.
The Formula 5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series will be the feature race of the weekend among the special displays and on track exhibitions.
Michael Lyons, the recently-crowned FIA Masters Historic F1 Champion, will be making the trip from the UK to drive the 1977 Hesketh 308E.
Lyons is seen by many as the odds-on favourite to claim the Formula 5000 race.
He holds the lap record for the original Hampton Downs circuit which he set at the NZ Festival of Motor Racing in 2014.
Lyons was the first driver to go under a minute around Hampton Downs with a time of 59.483 in a Lola T400 HU7 Formula 5000.
“The cars are the stars,” says David Abbott from New Zealand Formula 5000.
“Some of these cars have been driven by legends of the sport. They're big, grunty vehicles that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you hear them for the first time.”
“They're hard to drive but they're ferociously quick. They're way quicker than modern day GT cars even though they're 40-years-old.
Cars that feature in the Formula 5000 category include some classic marques which include Lola, McLaren, Begg, McRae, March, Talon and Elfin.
Smith will be driving his Lola T332 HU54, the Interscope car run originally in the US by Danny Ongais.
The car was sitting in a museum in the US for 30 years until Smith bought it in 2010 and restored it to its former glory.
Greg Thornton's Chevron B24 is another F5000 car with some serious pedigree.
The car's original owner, British great Peter Gethin, beat the might of a combined Formula 1/F5000 field to win the 1973 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch.
Lyons will also be competing in the Historic Formula One category alongside his parents Frank and Judy Lyons who are long term supporters of the Historic Formula One category.
“We've brought some Historic Formula One cars to New Zealand before but there's never been a Historic Formula One race,” Frank Lyons said.
“Back in the good old days the Tasman Series attracted quite a few of the Formula One teams including Brabham, Lotus and BRM but they were mixed races.
Other categories at the festival include: Central Muscle Cars, Group A / Heritage Touring Cars, Formula Junior Group 1, Formula Junior Group 2, Historic Formula Ford, Libre/Historic single seater/Atlantic cars, Historic Muscle and Historic Saloon cars and European Racing Classics.