According to Bathurst 1000 winner Mark Winterbottom, without the V8 Supercars Dunlop Series, he wouldn't have made it where he is today.
With 29 V8 Supercar Championship race wins to his name, flying the flag as Ford's favourite son, Winterbottom has been one of the more successful drivers of this generation.
Winterbottom credits the Dunlop Series, there to develop young drivers, as a key to his accomplishments, as the category celebrates 100 rounds at this weekend's UBET Perth SuperSprint.
"It's a good stepping stone," Winterbottom told v8supercars.com.au.
"It's really important now - [and] without the Dunlop Series, I wouldn't have made it into the main game. It's what got you in."
'Frosty' raced with strong team Stone Brothers Racing, and formed his relationship with respected engineer Campbell Little in the Dunlop Series. Needless to say the pair - reunited in the main game in 2010-12, and last year as a one off at Sydney Motorsport Park - took the series title in '03.
"It was important to win the championship because it opened doors as well," Winterbottom said.
"They could compare my lap times to the main series, they could compare your racecraft because it was essentially the same car you were about to step up into in the main game.
"It is really important and to win it got you the career and got you started."
2012 Dunlop Series champ Scott McLaughlin had the same experience - for him, his V8 Supercar start came immediately after being handed the trophy. He jumped in Garry Rogers' Commodore, replacing a dehydrated Alex Premat at the Sydney 500 and kept it clean - the rest is history for the Volvo star.
"I think it's now proven to be the best training ground for rising stars coming up through the ranks and I'm very thankful to have raced it," McLaughlin told v8supercars.com.au.
"It trained me ... I learned so much in that time, and when I made my debut I was pretty much ready to go."
McLaughlin's title year was one of the best on record, with Chaz Mostert, Scott Pye and Nick Percat real challengers. They all race in the main game and have featured in the top five over the past two years, and Mostert and Percat both have Bathurst 1000 titles under their belt.
"it was a pretty good year and I'm quite proud those guys are in the main game too now and we're making our mark," McLaughlin said.
"To be on top of that group, knowing we won that championship was a big achievement."
Two time and reigning Dunlop Series champ Paul Dumbrell says the category is much improved since winning the title for the first time in 2002.
"It feels as though it's a different category," Dumbrell, who will co-drive with Jamie Whincup in this year's Pirtek Enduro Cup, said.
"Back in those days there were 15-20 cars and the competition and the professionalism of the series has come so far over the last 10-plus years.
"It's certainly a real testament to the whole feeder-category nature of the sport. They've been able to build a vibrant and successful feeding ground into the main series."
Previous Dunlop Series Champions also include Dean Canto, Tony D'Alberto, Steve Owen, Jonathon Webb and Dale Wood.
Current V8 Supercars drivers who progressed through the category also include Tim Slade, Lee Holdsworth, James Moffat, Michael Caruso, David Wall and Ash Walsh.
Stay tuned for the Dunlop Series races today - the first begins at 10.10am local time at the Perth SuperSprint.