He was a motorcycle and touring car racer. His success on the world motorcycle racing circuit earned him the nickname The Wollongong Whiz.
Wayne Michael Gardner, OAM was born in Wollongong, New South Wales. He is a retired Australian motorcycle and touring car racer. His success on the world motorcycle racing circuit earned him the nickname The Wollongong Whiz.
Gardner began his racing career in 1977 at age 18, riding a second-hand 250cc bike in the Australian championship and finishing second on debut at Amaroo Park. He went on to record his first win a few weeks later at Oran Park Raceway.
He won his first 500cc race at the Jarama circuit in Spain in 1986, the World 500cc Championship in 1987 and the inaugural Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island in 1989. For his entire Grand Prix career, Gardner raced for the Rothmans Honda team and was joined on that team by fellow Australian Michael Doohan in 1989.
Gardner also won four Suzuka 8 Hours races in 1985, 1986, 1991 and 1992.
Gardner retired from motorcycle racing following the 1992 season but stayed closely involved with the sport, helping various riders like Daryl Beattie early in their careers. He rode at special events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed on classic Honda motorcycles and raced again at the Goodwood race meeting against fellow biker James Whitham and ex-Formula One driver Damon Hill.
Following his retirement from the 500cc championship, Gardner turned his interests to four-wheeled motorsport. He began his V8 Supercar career in 1993, winning the race at the Australian Grand Prix weekend and finishing third in the prestigious Bathurst 1000, driving a Holden Commodore. In 1994 he formed his own team, Wayne Gardner Racing, and continued racing V8 Supercars until 2000, the year in which he won pole position for the Bathurst 1000 however failed to finish the race.
Gardner also made a foray into the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship, racing Toyota Supras, in 1996 and raced in this competition until his retirement from motorsport in 2001. He won a round of the championship in 1999 (at Fuji International Speedway) and 2001 (at SportsLand Sugo). He also had the distinction in 2001 of being the only Toyota driver to finish every race that season, and he also finished every race in the points.