Five months ago, his Mustang was far from championship-winning contention.
Badly damaged following a hefty shunt at Manfeild, Craig Boote was looking at a seemingly impossible repair job.
Five months later, Boote and his Boss Motorsport Mustang are standing tall as the 2020/21 NAPA Central Muscle Car champions.
Four races at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park over the weekend would crown a worthy champion, with Boote coming into the morning level on points with Dean Hansen.
It could have been the championship lead for Boote, but the 1969 Mustang broke out of its speed bracket in Saturday’s second race, demoting him from second to 14th.
Race three would be a handicap start, and Boote would cross the line ahead of Hansen, albeit with just one car between the two.
That meant there were two points in favour of Boote for the final race, while Angus Fogg and Andy Knight were tied on points for third. Both had an outside chance of the overall crown.
A lightning start from sixth to third in race four had Boote in the box seat for the championship.
Hansen was compounded by running with older tyres and struggled to match the speed of his rivals.
Unfortunately, the race would end under the safety car after Rodney Head rolled his Torana at turn two. Hours earlier, Head won the handicap race and was coming into the finale with his tail up.
Head has been cleared by medical crews and seemed in high spirits.
The rest of the field thus ambled behind the safety car for the remaining laps, with Fogg taking victory over Knight.
Boote was third, and by finishing in front of Hansen, he sealed the 1A and overall title.
“A demon start, that was what won the championship for us,” Boote said.
“If I got behind Dean, I don’t think I would have held onto him.
“But getting that start, shooting into third and holding that was good.”
Boote says the title was particularly meaningful for the Boss Motorsport team, who turned around a severely damaged car late last year into a title-winning beast in just two weeks.
“Lets face it, the car was a write off,” he said. “Mentally, it was tough
“And then to come back and race with such awesome drivers and win a championship – and take it back to the South Island – is the ultimate for me in my racing career.
“This is the pinnacle of my life.”
Fogg’s victory in race four means he ends the season third, with Knight and Clarke Hopkins rounding out the top five.
Shane Johnson walks away from the season as the 1B champion.
The title in Group 2 was awarded to Andrew Sinclair.