Thunder Sports

A professional standard Motorsport event for grass-roots competitors

John Ristevski #79

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Tell us about your car

I drive a 2004 Mazda RX8. It has a Naturally Aspirated 13B Bridgeport, 5.12 ratio diff, a bit of suspension work and a few other tweaks here and there. Other than the engine, it is actually not that modified.  Probably too heavy for the power it makes but is awesome in the corners. 

What drew you into Motorsports and what keeps the passion alive?

 I have always been a bit of a petrol head and a bit of a thrill seeker, so I have always wanted to get involved since I was a kid. Watching car and bike racing on the TV as a youngster certainly helped to drive the passion. 

For me, Motorsport is a bit of an addiction. There are a couple of things that definitely keep me coming back - the fun of being at the track with great company and the challenge of pushing myself to go faster. But by far the most addictive part of racing for me is the clarity I get in my head as I am rolling out of the dummy grid and racing. During those moments, nothing else exists!

If you could race anything in any series. What would it be and why?

Definitely the WEC. Racing the best and most historic venues around the world, in the fastest cars in the world, racing as part of a team, pushing your endurance to the limits for up to 24 hours…. Just sounds epic!  On the sprint racing front, no question that it would be the BTCC .    

Who's your number one fan?

 Ha ha ha… Don’t think I have any fans! 

Who's in your mirrors harassing you and who's taillights you trying to get around?

Basically, anybody on the track doing similar times to me. I love the battle on the track. I’ve had brilliant battles with Casey Ambler, Jack Porritt, Andrew Goldman, Cam McKee, and the list goes on.  

Give a shout out to all the people and businesses that help you get on the grid?

Rook Finance, Customer Sports and Restorations, Moorabbin Auto Spares, Bar Crusher Boats and Mazbits. 

Peter Ryder #98

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Tell us about your car

 My fun machine is a very bright Orange S13 Silvia, with a 6Ltr LS engine, with stock Tremec 6 speed gearbox, all mounted in with a Sikky engine/gearbox mount kit.

The engine is stock apart from a cam, heavy duty valve springs, double row timing chain etc. However the engine is complemented with a lot of Aeroflow accessories, like external oil filter and cooler, fuel rails, fuel cell, fuel pumps, fuel surge tank, power steering reservoir, oil breather can, etc.

Custom Exhaust headers are 1 7/8” to 3” single full stainless using Aeroflow vee band clamps and 4 into 1’s and Aeroflow stainless exhaust flangesI am running on ex Porsche Cup slicks , so we run a Moroso accumulator to keep the oil pressure up to the engine under high cornering loads. I have also built a front splitter and rear diffuser to complement the rear wing to help get a bit more high speed cornering grip.

I have recently changed out the electric door windows with fixed Lexen panes to try and reduce weight, so now that I have no ability to get air flow into the cabin my next move is Lexen side windows to be able to fit some Naca ducts to pipe some air into my helmet. And so the improvements and spending rolls on.

What drew you into Motorsports and what keeps the passion alive?

 My Motorsport journey began very late, when in 2015, my wife bought me a V8 ride day at Winton for my 45th birthday. Having never been on a racetrack before, after that exhilarating day, I decided to have a go at a couple of sprint days at Winton in my wife’s XR5 Turbo, by then I was hooked.

With that experience and not wanting to risk destroying the wife’s shopping trolley I decided that with my business’s Rapid Hydraulics and Rapid Performance.parts, I should build my own race car.I bought the S13 as a rolling chassis, it’s previous life was a drift car in Japan, then imported out to Aus by a guy that use to work for me. We stripped it down, fitted a welded roll cage and LS1 engine and Tremec 6 speed gearbox. The car was originally green back then, with that set up I did a couple of years of sprint racing at Winton and Logic centre track near Wodonga.

Then in 2017 I started looking further afield and did a season of Cams Super Sprint Racing at Sandown, Phillip Island, I ended up with a 1st in the Championship in B4 category, modified Production over 4000cc.

The next big ticket event I did was the Challenge Bathurst in 2017 and 2018. That blew my mind, driving around that circuit with memories that were seared into my mind from a childhood watching the old touring cars of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I feel pretty proud that the second year there I did a lap time of 2.26, which is not far off the times the group A and Touring cars were doing back in the days of Dick Johnson.So the next stage of my progression as a racing car driver was last year I joined into my first door to door racing, with the Tin Top series at Winton and Wakefield Park, I came away with second in the Championship in the Extreme TT series.

In 2019 I joined the new Thunder-Sports category. It has not been a very successful year, with a blown engine in qualifying at the first meeting at Winton. Then at the 2nd race meeting at the Bend Motorsport Park, results were a DNF for the first three races and then finally a 10th place from the back of the field in the last race. All due to fuel injector issues. I'm looking forward to a bit of better luck.

If you could race anything in any series. What would it be and why?

I recon the Porsche Cup series looks like a great, one make series. There fast, look pretty cool, and not as ridiculously expensive as the GT cars.

Who's your number one fan?

I am going to pick my youngest nephew Damien Ryder, he loves race cars. He comes with me to most race meetings and is very helpful in the pits on race days. I would like to encourage him into the sport.

Who's in your mirrors harassing you and who's taillights you trying to get around?

 In my mirrors chasing me would be Ashley Maclurkin, John Hickey, we have had some great battles. Corey Gillett is definitely the one I am chasing, he is doing extremely well, he has an identical car to mine and my best bench mark and a great mate. However at the moment I have a bit of catching up to do.

Give a shout out to all the people and businesses that help you get on the grid?

First business to thank for helping me to afford this sport is my own business Rapid Hydraulics and Rapid Performance Parts, because the only reason I do this sport is to market the business. But somebody has too!  My performance business manager, Shaine Benson who is always helping with work on the car and advice.  Websters Dyno for obvious reasons, PK electrical for the new wiring job, Dusty Benson Engineering for welding/fabrication on the car.  Last but not least my wife Lara for allowing me to spend so much time and money with my girlfriend Silvia.

Cory Gillett #27

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Tell us about your car

 So I've had this car since i was 19, 35 now so it has been quite the journey.  Not much left of the original car with plenty of different looks, motors, wheels and paint. Its been a cheap apprentice car to a wanna be street racer and pretend drifter to its current setup as a track car.  Spent more money than i care to think about but the memories are worth every cent.  

Currently has a mild 5.7 LS1 out of a WH Statesman, making 280kw, standard t56 gearbox,  Jim Berry single plate clutch and a r200 with a Tomei centre.  HSD coil overs, hard-race adjustable arm kit and white-line sway-bars.  The 18x10s wrapped in 2nd hand Porsche slicks its just a mild s13 with nothing real different from when i drifted her... well except the alignment... but that i'll keep to myself.   

What drew you into Motorsports and what keeps the passion alive?

My passion started in the sand pit playing with match box cars i suppose, parents taking me to speedway i was always the kid on the fence yahooing.  As a teenager i loved heading to my uncle Rick's place to drive paddock cars an bikes in his paddocks.  When i got my licence... well it was a fire that could not be controlled.  I loved the Jap scene and drifting, gave it a go but fell out of love with the cost and competition.  Good mate Ben Arnold dragged me to a sprint day and i really enjoyed setting a time, and chasing it down and resetting my Pb time and time again.  It's addictive. 

If you could race anything in any series. What would it be and why?

Hard question, because i enjoy the build and the prep of my car more so then the racing... the racing to me just shows the hard yards in the shed at the track is paying off.  But if i had to pick something... something like a trophy truck at the Fink... big hp, no aero and you need big balls to hold it flat.

Who's your number one fan?

Oh I have a few, my parents never miss a race, followed me all over when I was drifting as well.  And my girlfriend Kristy does a insane job making sure the kids are dressed in team colors and hanging on the fence when daddy's living the dream. Toby my son, has even ditched The Wiggles and Pepper Pig on You Tube to watch Blendline TV repeats of dad. 

Who's in your mirrors harassing you and who's taillights you trying to get around?

Haha, yeah i feel like the Maclurkin brothers are always harassing me to push on when they turn up ... I always keep an eye on Pete Ryder too, we have been chasing each other round for years at Albury Wodonga District Car Club sprint days and he is always improving and developing his car.  Merrick Malouf schooled me up at Wakefiled, beating me 4 out of 4 racers but was so helpful with advice to get me on the pace, that's rare !!. Mark Tracey though... I've been chasing him and that LS powered BMW down for years... he definitely has been the drive behind the improvement.  Thanks mate !! 

Give a shout out to all the people and businesses that help you get on the grid?

Really got to thank my main sponsors Reliance Mechanical Services and Engine Master Australia !! I am so privileged they are on board and helping me live the dream.  Mac Taylor, he comes racing and always helping out, plenty of other businesses here in Albury Wodonga to mention that help out too at the drop of a hat, Websters Dyno and Performance, Status Customs, Kwik Stickers, Quinlans Auto, Rapid Performance, Border Oils.  A discount here, advice there, always appreciated and never unnoticed.  

Merrick Malouf #69

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Tell us about your car

I drive a ute - AU with BA upgrade for the last 12 years. The series winning car back in the day driven by Damien ICE White. Now it’s a 650 HP with 800 NM monster running on slicks. This car teaches you how to drive and takes no prisoners. The car’s weight is 1800 kg so it’s a heavy beast. Even with good brakes it takes time to pull her up. Still running on leaf springs, got to love that. Driving the ute, it’s all about throttle control which I love.  

What drew you into Motorsports and what keeps the passion alive?

  My father was a Motorsport head so as the son I just followed his passion. I remember doing 200kms per  hour back in 1984 in Dad’s M series 528i across Breeza, NSW. Back then that was quick. My HSV Coupe, which I take out on weekends, keeps my passion alive weekly. With 600 HP she is pokey with the Jenvey 8 throttle bodies.

If you could race anything in any series. What would it be and why?

Muscle Car Masters. Big HP, no aero, cars move around a lot. It’s a drives series.

Who's your number one fan?

Myself HAHA!

Who's in your mirrors harassing you and who's taillights you trying to get around?

The one and only Cory Gillett!  We first raced against each other at Wakefield Park.  It was one of the best battles I have ever had.  And we didn’t even bang doors just good hard racing.

Give a shout out to all the people and businesses that help you get on the grid?

My father and brother who was always waiting to hear what happen at each race meet.  Also Dave Hussey my race mechanic who has been with me for over 12 years, never miss a race meet and the only bloke I know who can build a race car out of cardboard that would be at the front of the grid. Thanks Dave.

Andrew Goldman #33

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Tell us about your car

The current weapon of choice is a 2001 Subaru WRX. 

Featuring an EJ207 block built by Top Torque Performance and EJ205 heads the engine boasts nitrated crank, Manley rods, Wiseco piston, King race bearings, Kelford cams and 1000cc injectors. Other upgrades include a transplanted STi 6 speed box, front mount Hyperflow intercooler and XYZ coilers.

The WRX carries the number 33 as a dedication to my Dad who was born in 1933 and who passed away in August 2015.

What drew you into Motorsports and what keeps the passion alive?

As a kid I lived a few blocks away from Sandown raceway in Melbourne and went to Springvale High School which was around the same distance away from the track. We could hear the cars from home or school whenever they were on track and I recall never being about to focus on anything else but finding a way to get to the track to watch. I’d climb trees on the outskirts of the track to watch Allan Moffat in his Brut 33 Mustang and spent many a weekend (and some school days) at the track either as a paying customer with my Dad or having gained entry by wading through the Springvale creek and into the track.

That feeling I had as a kid watching and dreaming of being a racing car driver is still what keeps the passion alive. The day I stuck my surname on the side window of a race car was a dream come true for me. That happened in 2018, so I have waited a long time to finally be living my dream.

If you could race anything in any series. What would it be and why?

I’d love to race in the GT series and contest the Bathurst 12 Hour race in an Audi. The R8 Audi is my dream road car so to race one would be awesome.

Who's your number one fan?

You can ask anyone that knows me – I’m my biggest fan ! From oversharing pictures and updates on Facebook and Instagram to my now famous catch-cry when I’m driving the daily “It’s ok honey, I’m a race car driver !”

But seriously, I think my kids are my biggest fans and my wife is the best support I could have on race day.

Who's in your mirrors harassing you and who's taillights you trying to get around?

To be honest, until I updated from the stock 1998 Subaru WRX I raced in 2018, the most regular car in my mirrors was the medical car. So I’m hoping to mix that up a bit more often with the new car.

My good mate Paul Cornell who influenced me to follow my dream of racing is my benchmark at present. He also drives a Subaru WRX so we hope to have a few good races together.

Give a shout out to all the people and businesses that help you get on the grid?

Without the support and understanding of my wife Danielle there is no way I could be doing what I’m doing, so the first shout out goes to her. My son Benjamin who is an apprentice mechanic is also a great help between races.

I’m lucky enough to receive great support from Carpet Shed (floor covering factory outlet in Box Hill), Limitless Car Care Australia (online distributor of USA made car care products) and Winchester Australia

The accounting practice in which I’m a Partner, GFM Gruchy Accounting has a sticker on the car but I can’t convince my partners to part with any cash.