The former Gore student who got to drive Mythbusters star Jamie Hyneman at high speed around a stunt racecourse

It's not every day you end up working with your childhood hero, but for former Gore resident turned research assistant Jethro McLean that has been the reality for the past 12 months.

McLean is front and centre of a new commercial from employment website Seek aimed at tackling misconceptions in the job market. But in a twist on the adage "it's not who you know, it's what you know", it's up to McLean to drive at high speed around an obstacle course with a very important passenger - former Mythbusters star Jamie Hyneman.

"If you would have told me a year ago I'd be driving around a racetrack with Jamie sitting next to me, giving me tips and instructions, I wouldn't really have believed you," he told Newshub.

McLean has known Hyneman for a little over 12 months, having made the leap from Gore to become a research assistant at the Jamie Hyneman Centre at the Lappeenranta University in Finland while studying on the side. 

After volunteering for a project, he began working with Hyneman on his thesis - the bond was strong between the pair and McLean was picked by the Mythbusters star to be part of the ad.

"I hadn't raced with Jethro before," Hyneman told Newshub. 

"I had worked with him and he seemed like a solid character, a solid Kiwi. They had some fairly aggressive little sports cars that would give you more than you asked for if you asked for it. So, we made a little smoke and crashed into some things and he did a great job with it."

Hyneman chuckled when asked if there was ever a moment he doubted McLean behind the wheel or feared he had made a mistake selecting him.

"No, no, I trust Jethro," he said.

"I had good reason to from having to work with him before - and now in this context. He's a solid guy."

Prior to the appointment to the Centre, McLean confided to Newshub he was more than a little aware of who Hyneman was, and how popular the show which ran for over 15 years had been.

"I definitely watched it a lot as a kid, and I can't say like I watched every episode or anything like that. But we had it on TV, and, if it was ever on, I'll be sitting there watching it because I'm studying mechanical engineering now, so the whole field kind of does interest me. It was a cool thing to watch."

So the idea of meeting one of your TV heroes, and being given a fast car to race around a track with that hero as a passenger sounds like it would be every kid's dream.

Add in the fact there were explosions on the set and obstacles to drive through, it sure does sound like a blast. But McLean said he couldn't take his eye off the ball to enjoy it all.

"There's always the chance of something going wrong, but it's a very controlled environment in that regard. Maybe it was a little bit nerve-wracking, but still, I was definitely more excited than nervous about this," McLean laughed.

However, not everything went according to plan. 

One part of the race is supposed to see McLean and Hyneman hurtling over a ramp and making a leap of faith. But it proves to be a step too far, and in the ad, McLean hit the brakes, essentially pulling the plug on taking a chance.

He jokingly bristles when asked about whether he was "chickening out" of the jump, saying years on Kiwi roads were responsible for him stopping on the track.

"I had to get the speed spot on, and then he [Hyneman] starts talking about [hitting the jump ramp at] over forty miles per hour. Obviously not being an American, I had no idea about the imperial system and what that was in kilometres, so I was just like: 'Yeah, I'll leave that one to the professionals'."

McLean says he has no plans to come back to Aotearoa as he gets "five months of snowboarding there and I'm pretty happy with that", but as his time with Newshub drew to a close, he's asked whether his more cautious approach on the track with Jamie was a reflection of his own driving skills.

"I don't know about you, but I don't have a lot of spare change for fixing other people's bumpers. So I'm better off to be a bit more cautious than that. But, yeah I would put myself as an average driver at best," he laughed.