SON OFA GUN

It’s a case of ‘like fa­ther like son’, write Mark Hinch­liffe and Bruce McMahon

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport Special -

WHEN a young Remy Gardner raced down Gardner Straight at Phillip Is­land re­cently he was more than aware of the stature of his fa­ther.

‘‘I couldn’t see the name on the wall as I rode past but I knew it was there,’’ the 12-year-old says.

Remy went on to score his first road race round vic­tory and could one day be­come as fa­mous as his fa­ther, who was Aus­tralia’s first premier-class mo­tor­cy­cle world cham­pion in 1987.

If he does, it will be noth­ing new to motorsport.

From For­mula One right down to grass­roots rac­ing, sons have been fol­low­ing in the tyre tracks of their famed fa­thers for years.

Three sons of fa­mous Aus­tralian mo­tor rac­ing fa­thers worth watch­ing are Remy, Ryan Hans­ford, son of cham­pion bike racer and Bathurst win­ner Gregg, and James Mof­fat, son of the le­gendary Alan Mof­fat.

Their ca­reers al­ready come with great ex­pec­ta­tions and the ex­tra stress of liv­ing in their fa­thers’ shad­ows.

‘‘I could see Dad hang­ing over the pit wall with his thumbs up and I nod­ded to him when I went past — it was pretty cool,’’ says Remy.

The at­trac­tion is ob­vi­ous — re­spect, love and hon­our from your dad.

See­ing his son race around the world-fa­mous track, fa­ther Wayne said it brought back mem­o­ries of his 1989 and 1990 Aus­tralian Mo­tor­cy­cle Grand Prix rides at the is­land.

‘‘ Both the six-hour and Phillip Is­land hold spe­cial mem­o­ries for me,’’ he says. ‘‘To see Remy con­quer­ing this in­cred­i­ble cir­cuit with skill and in­tel­li­gence re­ally makes me proud.

‘‘I took Rem to some of the cor­ners he strug­gled with and ex­plained how and where he could make up time and ride more smoothly. He put that di­rectly into prac­tice and im­proved with ev­ery lap in ev­ery race.

‘‘He’s very lucky to have his own per­sonal race trainer, but with­out the de­ter­mi­na­tion he’s shown, it’d mean noth­ing,’’ says Gardner.

A young Ryan Hans­ford and his fa­ther, Gregg, had talked about run­ning at Bathurst one day, dream­ing of join­ing forces to at­tack Mount Panorama.

But cham­pion bike racer and Bathurst win­ner Gregg died on the Phillip Is­land cir­cuit in early 1995, leav­ing be­hind sons Ryan, Rhys and Har­ri­son.

Fast-for­ward to 2010 and 27-yearold Ryan is de­ter­mined to make his own name on the track.

De­spite a late start in the busi­ness, the Bris­bane car­pen­ter is very keen to make up for lost time.

‘‘Dad was def­i­nitely an in­spi­ra­tion and I’m sure I would’ve been into rac­ing ear­lier if he hadn’t died,’’ says Ryan. ‘‘ I’m still learn­ing but the ground­ing’s there.’’

It’s not been easy, de­spite show­ing his skills in the lo­cal Gem­ini se­ries and seven races with the V8 Race Ex­pe­ri­ence-backed Fal­con in the Fu­jitsu se­ries this year.

Money is the big ob­sta­cle for Ryan, look­ing to at least run in the V8 utes next year if not Fu­jitsu — V8 Su­per­cars re­mains the main aim.

‘‘Chas­ing the bud­get takes some of the fun out of it,’’ says Ryan.

Among Hans­ford’s on-track ri­vals this year was James Mof­fat, son of Al­lan, who raced with and against Gregg Hans­ford. It was Mof­fat who gave Hans­ford his first taste of tour­ing cars with the rasp­ing Mazda RX7 in 1982.

Mof­fat Jr has raced go-karts, Lo­tuses, Porsches and utes and was For­mula Ford’s rookie of the year in 2007 af­ter pur­su­ing a motorsport ca­reer as a teenager with his fa­mous fa­ther well in the back­ground.

‘‘When I went to race karts he said you’re on your own. He’s al­ways been there but never pushed me,’’ says James, 25.

He was Fu­jitsu Rookie of the Year in 2009 and this year had his first start in the V8 Su­per­cars with the FPR Fal­con at Bathurst.

‘‘My am­bi­tion has al­ways been to race pro­fes­sion­ally in V8 Su­per­cars and I am more com­mit­ted than ever to achiev­ing that,’’ James says.

‘‘ There’s a cou­ple of po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties and it seems the sit­u­a­tion is a bit fluid in a cou­ple of places, so I have to stay close to it and see what un­folds.

‘‘I just have to be pa­tient, which is pretty hard when this is all you’ve ever wanted to do.’’

Proud: Wayne Gardner and son Remy.

In dad’s foot­steps: James Mof­fat and Ryan Hans­ford.

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