It wasn’t all about the racing as can be seen here. At the 1994 Nationals at Melbourne’s Calder Park, Thornton (lower far right) is surrounded by a bevy of beauties at the pre-race ceremonies. At lower left is then ANDRA Marketing Manager, Vic Wood who now holds a similar role at Hedman Performance Goup in Whittier, California.

: You once told me about your trip to France for one FIA meeting and how New Zealander Garth Hogan took you up for a plane ride that ended up with the local air force almost ready to shoot you down – can you expand on that? Have you any other anecdotes that you can pass on?

TT: I thought that that was still top secret. We were invited to fly over the Normandie beaches and Garth was learning to fly. He was at the controls. There was a huge forested area where they tested rocket engines so you had to fly around it. Below us there was what appeared to be an abandoned airfield. When the radio chatter (in French) became heated and loud and a large camouflaged cargo plane flew up alongside us and it transpired that the airfield was also off limits.

This was at the time New Zealand was protesting vigorously about the French nuclear testing in the Pacific, so as we were escorted away. Garth said, “Sheesh, don’t tell them I’m from New Zealand.”

: In closing are there any plans for your future or anything else you would like to say?

TT: In the short term I plan to take a good break. Beyond that I have some options.

I have to thank anyone and everyone who’s helped me over the past 23 years. I can’t begin to name them all. It has been an absolute privilege and honour to steer the ANDRA organisation through the ups and downs over that time and I am pleased to have contributed. There are always one or two challenges on the ANDRA horizon but the strength of the sport in Australia and its ability to deal with those lies in a co-operative approach by the racers, their crews, our volunteers at all levels, the tracks and the administration.