There’s nothing more inspiring than a young person who has a dream and the vision to make it a reality.
Nineteen-year-old Singleton local, Ryan Gilroy, is one young man who has the vital attributes needed to make it to the top of the podium. Ryan is already some way along the path to becoming a professional racing car driver. I sat down with him recently to find out about his journey.
Ryan, let’s start with your life growing up in Singleton.
My mum, Sue, and dad, Tony, both moved to Singleton as teenagers. Back in the day, Dad’s parents ran The General Store at Jerrys Plains before it burned to the ground. Mum moved here with her parents and three brothers and went to high school in Singleton. She’s president of the local Chamber of Commerce. I think Singleton was a great place to grow up. I was a pretty sporty kid. I played rugby union for the Singleton Bulls and also did Little Athletics.
So, how did you come to be interested in motorsports?
I grew up as a big fan of V8 supercars as Dad was a total revhead. He was a Ford man who always watched the V8s and loved motorbikes. When I was at school at Hunter Valley Grammar, my mates were into racing go-karts. I had my first race in Newcastle aged 15. We bought a go-cart second hand, put it on the trailer and then took it to the track. I finished third in my first race, and from then I was hooked on the sport.
Was it a need for speed?
You don’t get that much sense of speed because you’re concentrating so hard on what you’re doing. Otherwise, you’d probably be a bit terrified and end up crashing. But I enjoyed pushing the equipment to its absolute limits. Go-carts are only designed to do so much, and then when you go past that point, it’s very rewarding. Eventually, I had to decide whether to pursue a professional go-karting career or to move into race car driving.
What did you decide?
Last year, I made the step into racing cars training with Raceaway Track Time, run by Phil Alexander, who used to race against Peter Brock and Dick Johnson back in the day. He has started the Road to Bathurst program for young aspiring drivers to develop their skills. It was great getting to experience a mix of cars, different tracks and get the grounding in the essential knowledge you need for racing cars. There’s a lot to learn, with spatial awareness being a big thing. You need to learn how to operate the cars as they’re pretty heavy, so we work on using the weight to our advantage. There’s many aspects to it before you even get to the track. You have got to be mentally and physically fit. You’ve also got to find sponsorship and support through networking.
Is there a defined career path for racing?
This year, I’m racing in the Toyota Racing Australia 86 Series, which supports the Supercars series in tracks around Australia. If you’re lucky and skilled enough, the dream is to progress upwards to the Supercars, where there are just 26 seats. I’m racing for the Sieders Team, who’ve won the Toyota 86 series before, so they’re a very competitive team.
Given that your dad is a rev head, he must be delighted in your career choice?
He loves it! He’s in for the long run, as is Mum. They’re fully supportive of me. I have already had some success. Last year, I managed to get a class win and a class pole positioning in the Production Touring Cars series. I also drove at Bathurst and broke a record for Class E production cars.
Gosh, you sound pretty busy already!
I also run my car mobile car detailing business in Singleton and around the Hunter Region.
Good to know Ryan, I’ll book a service and thanks for talking to me and best of luck in your racing journey. You can follow Ryan Gilroy Racing on Facebook to keep up to date.