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