Renowned for its size and diversity, this year’s GT Radial Thunder in the Park meeting is set to be one of the largest circuit racing events on the New Zealand motorsport calendar.
The diversity and calibre of motorsport talent for this year’s event has just expanded, with the announcement of involvement from some of New Zealand’s top drifting talent as part of Sunday’s excitement and schedule.
Jodie Verhulst (Tauranga), Drew Donovan (Tauranga), Joe Kukutai (Henderson) and Shane Allen (Waiuku) are just a few of the top name drivers stepping out from professional D1NZ ranks to show the crowd at Pukekohe Park Raceway what Drifting is all about.
Jodi Verhulst and Drew Donovan, who will be wowing the crowd drifting what’s universally known as the fastest drifting corner in the world. Photo: Maria Panova
Universally known as the fastest drift corner in the world, feared by many drivers these drivers jumped at the opportunity to test themselves on the 180kmph+ corner in front of what will be one of the biggest Thunder crowds to date.
Taking place this weekend, the iconic meeting sees eleven different classes of racing and over 250 different race cars take to the track, including; NZGT, Pro 7, Porsches, NZ Sixes, SS2000, Formula First, Northern Muscle Cars, Production Muscle Cars and the Pre 65 series.
Headlining the event though will be the dual GT1/GT2 series, and the thunderous Central Muscle Cars.
“This year the thunder will be well and truly louder than ever” says GT Radial Thunder in the Spokesperson Deborah Day.
“We’ve worked to ensure that there’s a class of racing for everyone from the ground-up with our young guns and future of Kiwi Motorsort in the single seaters, through to the beautifully presented classics and fire-breathing, record shattering beasts. Now that we’ve add Drifting to the mix, we’re all ready to go.”
Bruce Anderson’s pristine 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Replica will be just one of the many incredible V8 Muscle cars competing in GT Radial Thunder in the Park this weekend. Photo: Matthew Hansen
Punctuated by the presence of some of the most unique pieces of machinery Kiwi motorsport has to offer, GT1 and GT2 are home to an incredibly wild mix of cars. The two classes are populated by former NZV8’s and V8 Supercars – the wide-bodied, heavily modified ex-V8 Supercars campaigned by rivals Nick Chester and Dwayne Carter.
However, in order for either car to take outright honours in the competitive GT1/GT2 class, they will need to take down the trio of favourites – Carl Hansen’s spark-emitting TVR Tuscon, Cameron Jones’ rotory-powered Chevrolet Camaro trans-am, and Glen Smith’s stunning Daytona Prototype Porsche.
Formed over ten years ago, the Central Muscle Car series is regarded as one of the true success stories of New Zealand motorsport, with its large fields and its tendency to produce close and physical racing.
While on the surface, the Central Muscle Cars and the dual GT1/GT2 classes appear to be radically different, both headline classes do feature a similar ethos – relatively free regulations allowing and encouraging Kiwi racers to produce race cars using their own ingenuity, as well as the proverbial number eight wire. The result of this are fields of race-cars which are as mesmerizing as they are loud and raucous. Here, the cars are well and truly the stars, and variety is king.
The illustrious Porsche class lining up for action at last year’s GT Radial Thunder in the Park event- Photo: Matthew Hansen.
While the more established racers gravitate towards classes like Central Muscle Cars and GT1/GT2, the meeting also caters towards some of New Zealand’s most talented up and coming drivers, with classes like Formula First and the Pro 7’s (a series specifically for rotary-powered Mazda RX7’s) representing an excellent cost-friendly channel for young drivers to establish themselves and learn more about the sport.
“We’re proud to have one of the best weekends in Kiwi Motorsport at Pukekohe, with family-friendly prices and activities to match” says Deborah. “A full weekend of racing for just $28 (per adult) is a perfect way to spend some special family time, with under 16’s free alongside any accompanying adult. We have camping here on site free for motor homes and our Kids in Cars Fun Zone will be cranking all weekend to keep the little ones entertained on top of the back-to-back action.”
GT Radial Thunder in the Park can be seen as a nod to New Zealand’s rich motorsport history, models of race car from almost every significant era of Kiwi tin-top racing fronting up for what is fast becoming an event which cannot be missed.
Tickets to GT Radial Thunder in the Park are still available through Ticketek, through the official event website: http://www.thunderinthepark.com/. Gate sales will also be available over both days of the event.
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