Community Sports Dad of the Year 2016
Garth Tander - Supercars

Partner’s name: Leanne
Children’s names: Scarlett (5) & Sebastian (3)
Charity of choice: Ponting Foundation

For almost two decades, Garth Tander has been one of the stars on the V8 Super Car circuit racing for the Holden Racing team. The Western Australian born Tander was series champion in 2007 and has more than 50 wins from his 550 plus races, including more than 30 pole positions and 140 podium finishes. Garth is also a three time winner of Australia’s greatest motor race – the Bathurst 1000. Last year, Garth finished sixth in the overall championship points and is poised to finish in the top 10 again this year. Life is a lot different now for this speed demon, with two children under five. “I used to remember guys in the race team that would always rush to try and catch an earlier flight, on the off chance they would see their kids, before they went to bed,” Garth said “Prior to our kids, I wouldn’t bother, I’d just catch the next plane. Nowadays, I am that guy, always trying to get home early, if possible, to try and see the kids prior to bed!” Wife Leanne, herself a professional race car driver says: “Garth has always been great with kids. He really knows how to relate to them and he just enjoys being with Scarlett and Sebastian, mucking around with them, being there to fix their problems, carry them in asleep from the car or whatever else they need.”

Have you found it hard spending time away from the kids during the season? It’s getting more and more difficult. Especially with Scarlett, as she gets older, she is starting to get upset every time I leave for the airport, she is starting to understand that I am usually away for at least a week at a time. That usually means tears as I leave for the airport. Scarlett usually cries too! - Garth

What is your favourite activity with the kids? Lately it has been wrestling on the floor. That seems to be quite a hit with them. Its full old school, stacks on, usually me at the bottom. They try to keep me down, it usually ends with me copping some sort of injury and the kids laughing at me! - Garth

On race day, do you like to relax with the family or do you try to keep away from them? The family don’t get to a lot of races anymore as Scarlett is starting school and travelling with them is a bit of a mission for Leanne when she has to travel with them on her own. But when they do get to the races, its great having them around, because it doesn’t matter to the kids whether I win, lose or draw, they are still smiling when I see them. - Garth

Do you have a memorable moment with the children? Winning Bathurst in 2011, the first 2 people I saw when I got out of the car were Leanne and Scarlett. Scarlett was only 4 months old and didn’t have a clue what had happened, but it’s something I will remember forever. - Garth

I guess you've seen your partner in a whole new light? Absolutely. She’s a champion. I don’t really know how she does it. As well as running the house, she keeps the kids occupied and entertained, acts as my PA, pays all the bills, is studying full time and races herself also. Now that I have written all that, I feel like I need to lift my game a little! - Garth

What's been the toughest thing to adjust to? So far, nothing has stood out as anything too difficult. I guess for Leanne and I, neither of us have family in Melbourne. My family are in Perth, Leanne’s in Sydney, so we don’t have that built in family support network that is “just around the corner”. - Garth

What's the best part of your day with the children? Bath time used to be my domain, from the time they were born, to around now when they can bath, or shower themselves. That was great, especially when they were both very little. Now it’s reading to them before bed. When I am home, I try to do that every night. - Garth

What makes him such a great father? It has to be the love he has for Scarlett and Sebastian. You just know he will do anything and everything for his children. They’re the light of his life.  When he’s having a bad day at the track, you can visibly see his mood lift as soon as he lays eyes on the kids.  He’ll do anything to make them smile and laugh. - Leanne

How hard is it when he has to be away from home? When the kids were little it was really exhausting, as we don’t have any family in Melbourne who could come and help out. There were periods when Garth was only home one or two days every week so I would be doing all the usual things associated with young children without a break for days on end. It’s getting easier now that they’re starting to be able to do little things by themselves, like getting dressed, going to the toilet etc, so it does take the pressure off but by the time he does come home I am certainly glad for the extra pair of hands! - Leanne

How does he keep in contact with you? We usually use Facetime, which is quite funny because the kids either use the screen as a mirror to look at themselves pulling funny faces or they hold the phone in such a way that Garth gets to talk to the ceiling or see up their noses! So it’s never a great conversation but at least the kids get to see their dad and he gets a chance to hear their voices. - Leanne

Sports Dad of the Year 2016
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