GATES GREATS: The Gates Sidecar Cup is up for grabs at the Mildura Motorcycle Club’s 70th anniversary event at Olympic Park this weekend. The Gates name is synonymous with sidecar racing in Mildura. Pictured are Byren Gates with father Les, brother-in-law Mick O’Loughlin and son Kayden, 10. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
THE Gates name is synonymous with speedway sidecar racing at Mildura’s Olympic Park.
They go together like summer and swimming, chips and gravy or dressing up and Melbourne Cup Day. It just fits.
Three generations of the Gates family have been dishing the dirt on the speedway tracks since the 1970s. It began with brothers John and Les, who are both in the Olympic Park sidecars Hall of Fame.
Les’s boys Byren and Deven got the itch as teenagers and forged their own careers, which includes a Victorian Title for the former. Now Byron’s 10-year-old son Kayden is racing in junior sidecars.
The family name is lent to the Sidecars Cup that is up for grabs on Sunday night, as part of the Mildura Motorcycle Club’s 70th anniversary weekend. This will be competed for alongside the Phil Trump Solo Trophy.
Les was a passenger for his brother John for five years, but said their combination was never intended to last that long.
“I was an interstate truck driver,” Les said. “I came back home one Saturday and John told me he didn’t have a passenger for the next night. I filled in and we set a new Olympic Park lap record.
“I told him he would probably need to look for someone else as I wouldn’t be available all the time. I don’t think he looked very hard because I was on board with him for the next five years!
“We won a number of meets here and in Broken Hill. We’ve loved our speedway for years and it’s something we still enjoy. I still spanner for Byren and Deven now.”
Byren has found most of his success with brother-in-law Mick O’Loughlin riding shotgun.
As well as a Victorian Sidecar Championship, the duo have twice placed fifth in the Australian Sidecar Championship, as well as winning a round of the Grand Slam competition in Renmark.
“It’s pretty good to see the club has recognised the work Dad and John put in to sidecar racing here in Mildura over the years,” Byren said.
“I was 17 and Deven 16 when we started racing with the seniors.
“It’s been something we’ve all enjoyed for a long time, and now I can help teach Kayden as much as I can. He’s swinging on junior sidecars at the moment.
“It’s what Leigh Adams has said before, with speedway you never stop learning, even if you retire. There is always much more for us to learn about the art of sidecars.”