The only thing to keep Thomas Raldorf out of Formula 1 racing was Grand Prix racer Jan Magnusson! Tom and Jan joined the same Go-Kart club in Denmark as teenagers. In the next few years, they remained close rivals, but in 1990 Tom eventually had to settle for second. Jan the champion went on to join the Grand Prix Formula 1 circus and Tom toured the world, finally ending up in Thailand.
While waiting for his work permit as a Scandinavian Translator, Tom decided to try his hand at Go-Kart racing again. And while Jan Magnusson has not set the F1 tracks alight (having just been dropped from the Stewart Formula 1 Racing Team) it has been left to Thomas Raldorf to keep Denmark’s flag flying high. This he has certainly managed to do, being the current champion in Thailand in the hotly contested 160 kg Kart class and having won all four rounds contested so far in the 2005 championship. If he wins this year’s championship, as expected, it will be his fourth since 1998.
As the son of the famous Danish rally driver, Oluf Raldorf, Thomas was born in Aarhus in 1970. His love for motor sports was evident from early childhood. Thomas went to almost all of his father’s races. He always wanted to drive with his father.
“My father’s best record was the second fastest in the Monte Carlo rally. I remember how I loved to watch him drive,” Thomas Raldorf says.
As soon as he was old enough, Thomas joined the Viadukten youth club in Roskilde. At first he wanted to get involved with the Motorcross discipline, but his instructor insisted that he tried Go-Kart.
“After only five minutes on the Go-Kart track, I realized that this was exactly what I wanted,” Thomas recalls.
One of his very first achievements in Go-Karting was the Danish Championship in 1984. Following a car accident in 1989, where he got a back injury, he started working as a tour guide in 1994, which eventually led him to Southeast Asia.
Today, Thomas and his wife, Sorinthip, live in Thailand with their recently-born daughter, Angelina.
“I have permanently lived in Thailand since 1997. I have only been back in Denmark twice since then to see a few people I love, but fortunately they also love Thailand, so they come out here often,” he says with a smile.
Going for a World Record
Thomas used to practice on the track three times a week, but lately he only practices three or four times before each race.
“My work as a ship-chandler doesn’t give me much time to practice. My mechanics and I usually spend a week before each race practicing and testing the machine. In the end, we arrive at the perfect setting for the course,” he says.
“But I must admit that it isn’t just a lot of time, which is required – money also plays an important role. You can’t be a champion if the machine doesn’t support your skills. In my last race in Nakorn Ratchasrima, I was about 20 meters ahead of my opponents, when my engine suddenly broke down. I couldn’t finish the race, which meant I got zero points,” he says.
Apart from looking to win the Thai National Championship 2005, Thomas Raldorf has set another remarkable goal for himself this year, which he will attempt to reach in the fall.
“I want to beat the Go-Kart world record for driving the highest amount of kilometers in 24 hours. I will make my attempt with some co-drivers at the Bira International Circuit Pattaya in November, and right now the record stands at 1,709.90 kilometers, which was set in England in 1996 with four drivers,” he explains.
Motorsport has been gradually developing in Thailand for the last ten years, and Thomas Raldorf is happy to have the opportunity of continuing his involvement with the Go-Kart discipline.
“It gives me a lot of things, like the relaxation, the excitement of speed, and the trill of being ahead of the opponent. Learning to think clearly ahead of the race is the most important thing,” Thomas says.