Andre Heimgartner admits he "never would have thought" he would reach 100 rounds in Supercars, a milestone he will achieve this weekend.
Heimgartner will become the 51st driver to start 100 ATCC/Supercars rounds at this weekend’s NED Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint.
The Brad Jones Racing driver debuted as a teenager in a Super Black Racing wildcard Falcon at the 2014 Bathurst 1000.
The Kiwi made his full-time debut in 2015, also for satellite team Super Black, before shifting to Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport in 2016.
He missed out on a drive in 2017 and nearly gave up his Supercars dream, before famously scoring a Gold Coast podium which saved his career.
An injury to Ash Walsh saw Brad Jones Racing parachute Heimgartner in alongside Tim Slade, and the then 22-year-old led at Surfers Paradise.
At the time, Heimgartner was ready to transition away from racing into a career in finance broking, of which he is qualified.
Kelly Racing came calling, and he returned to the full-time fold in 2018 before joining BJR in 2022.
Round 1: 11th on Bathurst debut in 2014
Prior to his BJR lifeline and shock podium, Heimgartner has 27 rounds to his name. He has since added 72 more, has taken a win, and became a dad.
The highlight remains a maiden victory with Kelly Grove Racing at The Bend in 2021, although Heimgartner has since taken a number of trophies with BJR.
He scored trophies in Perth and Winton before scoring a double on home soil at Pukekohe, before adding another at Albert Park last month.
It all seems a blur for the 28-year-old, who became a first-time father with fiancé Jemma in March.
"100 rounds is pretty epic," Heimgartner told Supercars.com.
"I would never have thought that, back in the day when I was watching Supercars at Pukekohe.
"Sometimes with these milestones, you sit back and have a look. I didn’t think I’d be living on the Gold Coast, doing my dream job.
Round 29: Career-defining Surfers podium
"Especially when I was going in and out, I was with LDM and it wasn’t all going to plan.
"I almost quit, if not for that Gold Coast race [with BJR in 2017].
"It’s really cool — it gives you a warm feeling in your heart."
Heimgartner has firmed as BJR’s lead driver since joining ahead of 2022, and is eighth in the championship after three rounds.
The Kiwi dropped back after a miserable weekend in Perth, where he took finishes of 21st, 10th and 22nd.
However, given the movable feast that is the results sheet with Gen3, Heimgartner is confident there could yet be more change at the front.
BJR last won a race in 2020, at Sydney Motorsport Park courtesy of now Walkinshaw Andretti United driver Nick Percat, who this weekend records his 300th race.
"It’s been a crazy year, it’s been up and down," he said.
Round 98: Another BJR podium
"We started off really well, Perth was a massive struggle for us which was a bit of a downer, we slipped in the championship.
"We have to go through those lows like Perth to really learn what you want from the car, what you don’t want.
"Coming into this year, we saw it as an opportunity, as many did, to close the gap [to the front teams].
"We definitely need to be challenging in that top five… you never know what could happen. Some who are strong now could fade off at the end of the year.
"You will see different teams being dominant at different tracks at different times."
The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the NED Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint this weekend.
Supercars will hit the track for the first time on Saturday for Practice 1 at 9:00am local time.
Tickets for the event are on sale on Supercars.com and Ticketek.com.
ATCC/Supercars round starts for full-time 2023 contracted drivers*
266: Mark Winterbottom 236: James Courtney, Will Davison 218: Shane van Gisbergen 188: David Reynolds 187: Tim Slade 140: Scott Pye 133: Chaz Mostert 132: Nick Percat 108: Cam Waters 99: Andre Heimgartner 81: Jack Le Brocq 74: Todd Hazelwood 70: Anton De Pasquale, Macauley Jones 51: James Golding 46: Jack Smith 45: Bryce Fullwood 35: Will Brown 31: Brodie Kostecki 25: Thomas Randle 18: Broc Feeney 4: Matt Payne, Cameron Hill, Declan Fraser
*Correct to 2023 Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint