Historic Aussie name makes New Zealand motorsport return
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Surnames such as Brock and Johnson tend to dominate our memories of Australian touring-car history, but the 1970s and 80s era they dominated was also known for its privateer battlers and over-achieving underdogs.
Through this period of Group C and then Group A competition, Ray and Paul Gulson were frequent fixtures in the ATCC. Although their racing history goes back into the 60s (underlined by some strong results at the Bathurst 1000, including a third place for Paul in 1980 with Ian Geoghegan), the family remain best known in New Zealand for their exploits at the famed Wellington Street Race.
Now the name is back, with the confirmation that Ray Gulson’s nephew — Dylan Gulson — will be driving in the New Zealand Toyota 86 Championship at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint on November 3-5.
“Not a lot of people these days pick up on the history of the Gulson name,” Dylan told Driven. “My uncle Ray and his brother Paul raced for many years, and of course came over to Wellington a few times in a BMW 635i.
“Bringing the name back will be a lot of fun — and there’s a little bit of pride there, too.”
Having come from a karting and state-level background, the young Gulson is in the middle of his second season of racing in Australia’s Toyota 86 Racing Series. Most recently he claimed a maiden race win at Mount Panorama last weekend — his local track.
“[The series is] hugely competitive, it’s so close. It creates intense racing every lap we’ve done since rolling out at Winton last year. I couldn’t think of a better way to get into a national level of racing.”
The 25-year-old’s Kiwi guest drive is part of an ongoing relationship between Toyota Racing New Zealand and Toyota Racing Australia, which has seen both categories action transtasman driver swaps.
The last of these was former Carevets Racing Scholarship winner Jack Milligan from Christchurch, who made a barnstorming debut in the Australian series last weekend at Bathurst — ending the weekend with a fourth and third-place finish to his name [pictured above].
For Gulson, preparation for the Pukekohe Raceway event has already begun in the form of replaying footage and practising the tricky circuit on a simulator.
“But, nothing compares to when you show up and drive your first lap ... it never does,” he said. “I’m just trying to get my reference points and other little things sorted after watching the Toyotas race there last time.”
Like many others, he hopes that his experience in the tin-top feeder formula will help him into the international GT-racing scene or the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
“Honestly at the moment that’s where my ambitions lie,” he said. “I’ve been coming to Bathurst here especially since I was very young. Fond memories. It’s always been a goal.”