TO say that Sunday's Bathurst 12 Hour winner Kenny Habul idolised Peter Brock might be selling it short.
To him, Brock wasn't just a brilliant driver and master of his craft, he was the man who injected hope and promise into Habul's life.
So when Habul was able to put himself on the top step of a Mount Panorama podium, like the man who inspired him, he was overcome with emotion.
"Peter was good to me. I had a rough upbringing and had to leave home. I went to Melbourne and he looked after me and took me in," he said.
"I worked with his race teams, just sweeping the floors and washing the wheels, and he and [wife] Bev always checked on me.
"When everyone went home I'd sit in the racecar. As a kid with dreams he was the ultimate. He never turned away from an autograph or a picture with someone. He gave so much of his time."
Habul was in awe of the battle between his co-driver Jules Gounon and the pursuing Maro Engel during the final hour of Sunday's race.
He said that watching countless laps of high quality laps fuels a desire with him to master the Bathurst track as much as possible - even if he believes such a task is impossible.
"No-one's ever come here and just conquered this place. Peter told me, probably back around 2004, that no-one has ever done a perfect lap around here, if you try too hard you bring it back four feet shorter," he said.
"That's what makes this track so mystical to me. I'd love to come back for more races, like the Easter event or whatever I can do, because we need all the laps we can get here."
Habul has an added connection to Bathurst through his purchase of a property along Conrod Straight, and house that he sees as more than just a place to enjoy a country retreat.
"It's a beautiful property. It's a great place for my kids to come and enjoy the countryside and the view is amazing. My kids were born in the US so they're not used to this, and I want them to spend more time here," he said.
"What a better place to be to learn more about Australia? It couldn't be any more Australian being on this track on this hill."
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