THE legendary Geoghegan family name is back on Australian racetracks and back to its winning ways.
Max Geoghegan, the 19-year-old grandson of the late five-time Australian Touring Car Champion Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan, made his race debut in the Excel Cup at Queensland Raceway on the weekend.
With the careful coaching of close friend and Supercars driver Broc Feeney, Geoghegan scored a sixth and two thirds in the preliminary races before winning the final by a tenth of a second.
It was a dream debut for a teenager who grew up loving motorsport and was a keen sim racer in high school, but never made the plunge into karting.
The catalyst for his sudden step into racing through the entry-level Hyundai Excel class came from watching the exploits of friends and a simple desire to have some four-wheeled fun.
“I’m very close with Broc and Nash (Morris) and, following both their careers and loving every bit of it, I wanted to give it a go myself,” Geoghegan explained to V8 Sleuth.
“Another mate had just bought an Excel and I thought ‘you know what, I’ll give it a go’, so I found a car online and bought it on Wednesday.
“On Thursday I was out at Norwell, that was my first ever training in a car and then Friday practice was the first time I’d ever been around a racetrack, other than Norwell the day before.
“It all happened very quick, but I thought I may as well give it a go and see what happens. I didn’t have massive expectations going into the weekend, I was there to have a bit of fun.”
Geoghegan paid credit to Broc and his father Paul Feeney for their assistance at Queensland Raceway as they first worked to sort the car and then refine his driving.
“Broc was telling me ‘here are the little things you’re doing good, here’s the little things you can do better’; I was extremely lucky to have him with me and have that experience,” he said.
An underpowered Excel is the antithesis of the machinery for which Ian Geoghegan is best remembered: the Ford Mustang and ‘Super Falcon’ touring cars of the late 1960s and early ‘70s.
Geoghegan won four straight ATCC titles in brutal, power-sliding V8 Mustangs from 1966 onwards, having taken the ’64 crown in a Ford Cortina GT.
His career also included victory in the 1973 Bathurst 1000 aboard a Falcon GT for the Ford works team alongside Allan Moffat, and a host of other titles and trophies.
The Geoghegan racing dynasty had started with Ian’s father, Tom, a Sydney-based car dealer and competitor who passed down the motorsport bug.
Ian’s brother Leo also raced with great success, winning a swag of open-wheel titles and making 10 Bathurst starts, while sister Marie-Louise spent time behind the wheel too.
Max is the son of Ian’s second son, Chris, who, although not a competitive racer himself, was part of his late brother Michael’s Formula Ford exploits in the late 1980s and early 90s.
“It’s a massive inspiration,” said Max of his family’s heritage.
“Having all that history in our family name is something that we all cherish and really respect, not just from Ian, but from Leo, Marie-Louise, Tom, everyone.
“We just love the history of the family. We’re all massive motorsport fans, we all love it and embrace it.”
Max will continue his own racing journey this weekend with another Excel outing, this time at Sydney Motorsport Park.
The Sydney-based teen is adding racing to a packed schedule that involves full-time work at
his father’s tyre and wheel repair business, shifts at a restaurant and university study in the field of IT.
As for making racing a career, he says: “At this stage it’s just a bit of fun. It’s always been a dream for that to happen, but my focus is to learn a lot and enjoy myself.”