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Once the Grand Finals event again had a home the rest fell into place. Part of that was the ANDRA Contingency Programme and perhaps the most impressive thing was the interest in racing nationally from the Sportsman racers. (For those that don’t know, Australia is four-fifths the size of the USA- Ed) The ADR Series has now become the Rocket Allstars and despite increased costs and time constraints the commitment of racers to travel nationally to garner points is stronger than ever.
In the early nineties ANDRA gave the Australian Nationals a long term home in Melbourne, Victoria and at the same time the Winternationals was elevated to National Championship level in Ipswich, Queensland. In 1996, ANDRA purchased its office suite in Adelaide and since that time the staff has grown from two to seven.
The delivery of the Perth Motorplex (in Western Australia) in 2000 and Sydney Dragway in 2003 were milestones for the sport, and more recently the delivery of national, free to air television and proper recognition of the six ANDRA Pro categories. Recognition of ANDRA as a “high scorer” at international level is also something I’ve been very proud of.
Since 1988, Australia’s version of the NHRA – ANDRA (Australian National Drag Racing Association) has been led by Tony Thornton. As its Chief Executive Officer, Thornton with the assistance of a small band of staff and many, many dedicated volunteers has taken the sport out of the wilderness and into the new millennium in spectacular fashion. Now he has decided to retire from his position with the ANDRA and we thought that an exit interview with a man the Australian drag racers feel is their equivalent of Wally Parks. Our Australian correspondent, JON VAN DAAL had a chance to catch up with Tony Thornton the following exit interview.
: Firstly, congrats on your recent retirement. After being twenty-three years in the job you can obviously look back with a lot of pride considering how far ANDRA has come in that time. Can you list some of the highlights.
Tony Thornon: Thanks, Jon. There are many of those. Getting ANDRA back into the black in the early nineties came earlier than expected and it was a great first step. That came through the great efforts of a number of people and from there we worked to strengthen the Australian Drag racing Series, which had withered in the late eighties. The key to that was the return of ANDRA Championship racing to Sydney at Eastern Creek in 1991. (Castlereagh International Dragway, home of the Australian Drag Racing Finals closed in 1984 – Ed)