Motorsport: Fast-growing Pro8 series to test mettle against V8 Supercars' best at Mount Panorama

It's one of the fastest-growing categories in New Zealand motorsport, and now it will see two drivers from the South Island take on some of the best V8 Supercars drivers at Mount Panorama this weekend.

Pro8 sees drivers compete in identical Mazda RX8s - meaning it's all about who has the best ability rather than the biggest wallet.

It's some of the closest racing you'll see at a circuit, and compared to other classes, it won't cost you an arm and a leg - maybe just the odd bumper.

"There's a little bit of touching, they say rubbing's racing, but it is door-to-door make a mistake and you will get passed,"  Ash McConchie said.

That's what's making the Pro8 series one of the fastest-growing racing categories in the country.

"We've gone from five cars, ten cars [and] now this year we have a field of 27," McConchie said.

Its roots lay with another series - Pro7 - popular in the 90s and 2000s, but with the older Mazda RX7s becoming expensive to maintain and find parts for, it's now the turn of the RX8.

"They're reliable, they go around corners like they're on rails," Jarrod Parmenter said.

"Yeah, it's a good stepping stone for the future, and it's a great car and cheapish," Will Kitching said.

And with racing parity in all but identical cars, it's attracting all walks of life.

"From 16, and 17-year-olds, right through to Trev [Trevor Parmenter], having a guess…maybe mid-sixties," McConchie said.

It turns out Trev is a bit of a legend. A four-time national hill-climb champion, who has spent the last few years fighting cancer, but is now back behind the wheel.

"Got a bit clear of it in November so bought a car a month ago, and here I am," Parmenter said.

The series has recently developed a trans-Tasman relationship that will see two drivers compete in RX8s at the Bathurst six-hour on Sunday, taking on the likes of Supercars drivers Will Davison and Anton de Pasquale.

"They'll be in a BMW, we'll be in an RX8, but it's pretty cool," McConchie said.

The big boys might have an advantage there, but in this series, it's all about being the best behind the wheel.