A poignant inclusion in a new TV commercial for Bob Jane T-Marts hints at a tragic family secret and the healing of a rift over the tyre tycoon’s $100million fortune.
Rodney Jane, the once-estranged son of motor racing legend Bob and heir to his empire, appears in the new ad alongside snippets of his father as a younger man.
Footage shot at Melbourne’s Calder Park Raceway decades ago shows Bob Jane delivering a message on the danger of bald tyres.
‘I’m Bob Jane… you’ve heard me talk about bald tyres. Now let me show you just how dangerous they are. Watch what happens in an emergency in the wet,’ he says.
Footage of a car skidding and spinning is shown, before his son appears on screen to say: ‘I’m Rodney Jane and we’re still testing tyres for safety 50 years later.’
It’s a message close to the heart of the family business: Bob Jane’s second-eldest daughter Georgina was killed in a car crash in 1991 after a retreaded tyre blew out.
As a result, Bob Jane T-Marts is still Australia’s only major tyre retailer which doesn’t sell retreaded tyres.
The return of Bob Jane to the tyre company’s ads comes after Rodney Jane made an emotional tribute to his father last month when he got behind the wheel of a racing car for the first time in a decade, making his international debut at the fabled Le Mans circuit.
It would seem the bitter family feud that embroiled the Janes is being left behind.
Rodney Jane, the once-estranged son of motor racing legend Bob Jane and heir to his empire, appears in the new ad alongside snippets of his father as a younger man (pictured)
Bob Jane says ‘Now let me show you just how dangerous they are. Watch what happens in an emergency in the wet’ and footage of a car (above) skidding and spinning is shown
The tyre king’s son Rodney Jane (pictured) then appears to reinforce the safety message close to his family’s heart after the death of Bob Jane’s second-eldest daughter in a 1991 car crash
Rodney and his racing legend father had battled over the family fortune, with the younger Jane winning a 2013 court case over a $2.9million payment to the tyre company.
Bob Jane claimed he loaned the money to Bob Jane Corporation, which by then was headed by Rodney, for the purchase of two Melbourne properties.
Bob Jane had accused his son, born to his second wife Geraldine, of taking advantage of him after he had a stroke in 2006 – wiping out an estimated $100million fortune.
However, Rodney Jane told the Victorian Supreme Court that if he hadn’t stepped in to take hold of his father’s business, it would have collapsed around 2003.
Justice Michael Sifris threw out the case with both father and son indicating that a reconciliation was not on the cards.
‘My dad, up until 2010, was my best friend without doubt,’ Rodney said in 2013.
‘We were really close … we have done everything together for 30 years.
‘I lost him as a friend, I lost him as a father. It would be one of the worst things that has ever happened to me.’
Bob Jane’s falling out with Rodney was only eclipsed by the acrimony surrounding his split with third wife Laree, who he met at a beauty pageant when he was 58 and she was just 19.
Rodney Jane is pictured going to court in May 2013 after his father tried to reclaim almost $3million which a judge ruled Bob Jane was not entitled to
Bob Jane went through an acrimonious split with his third wife Laree (both pictured), whom he met at a beauty pageant when he was 58 and she was 19
Bob Jane, 58, met Laree, 18, at a beauty pageant and proposed to her six weeks later, the couple going on to have three children before a bitter split, then a reconciliation
The pair divorced in 2008 after a bitter break-up and a public war over two Bob Jane T-Marts franchises she was running.
In 2009, Laree faced five charges including assault, false imprisonment and threatening to inflict serious injury on her then 77-year-old husband after he made a complaint to police in December 2006.
Bob Jane had earlier claimed that Laree spent almost $500,000 on a pearl-buying spree, had secretly obtained up to 14 credit card and ran up debts after he tried to rein in her spending.
The ageing tycoon claimed Laree was particularly infatuated with Paspaley pearls – some of the biggest and most sought after pearls in the world, produced in Broome.
However, all allegations Laree were dismissed and she told a court in 2013 that she and Bob Jane had rekindled their relationship three years earlier.
The family’s feuding was further exposed in 2018 when Bob Jane died aged 88 following a battle with prostate cancer.
Rodney Jane was not invited to his father’s funeral, with Laree asking only her own three children to attend.
Bob Jane had been an Australian icon, a kid from the backblocks of Melbourne who turned his passion for racing into a luxury car parts and then tyre business fortune.
Rodney Jane is back on the racing circuit after a ten-year break during which his legendary father died following a bitter family feud over the family’s $100million tyre fortune
Rodney Jane (left) won in Darwin after returning to the race circuit following a ten year lay off, and his famous father (right) with a Bob Jane T-Marts vehicle after he retired from racing to start an empire
Laree Jane (above) was accused by her estranged husband of threatening him with a bread knife, but all charges against her were dismissed in a Melbourne court
He was a four-time winner of the Armstrong 500 endurance race, which became the Bathurst 1000, and a four-time Australian Touring Car Champion who was inducted into the V8 Supercars Hall of Fame in 2000.
But not long after that his Bob Jane T-Marts business hit financial trouble, and before his death he went into bankruptcy and lost his family farm.
At the time, Jane said he had only $15 left in his bank account.
Rodney Jane is now forging his own career on the racetrack, winning a race at the Porsche Carrera Cup Pro-Am at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin last month.
He also impressed at the fabled Le Mans raceway in France last month, finishing fifth in the AM class in the 50-minute Carrera Cup race.
In what was his international debut, Rodney Jane’s race in a Bob Jane T-Marts Porsche meant that his family’s famous brand returned to the circuit 39 years after it last featured at the famous French event.
Bob Jane was an Australian racing icon who turned his Bob Jane T-Marts into a an empire, but by his last decade before dying in 2018 he was embroiled in bitter family feuds
Bob Jane (above) in his heyday, when he was a four-time winner of the Armstrong 500 endurance race, which became the Bathurst 1000, and a four-time Australian Touring Car Champion. He was inducted into the V8 Supercars Hall of Fame in 2000
Motor racing icon Bob Jane outside a Melbourne court in 2009 where his former wife Laree was acquitted of domestic violence charges, the 79-year-old stranded on the steps after his car had been towed for parking in a clearway
In 1984, Bob Jane backed an Australian team of touring car heroes Peter Brock and Larry Perkins in a Porsche 956.
Despite mechanical issues, and a crash ultimately ruling the pair out, they ran as high as fifth during the race.
Rodney Jane told Carrera Cup Australia that entering the races in France ‘means more than just driving a race car at Le Mans’.
‘My father was instrumental in the careers of many racing drivers, including some of the best names in the sport and he played a pivotal role in getting Peter Brock and Larry Perkins to race there 39 years ago in a Porsche in the 24 Hours of Le Mans,’ he said.
‘Two Bathurst legends racing there was massive news at the time and I’d like to think that this trip is a small way to pay homage to that.
‘I’m really excited for this adventure. It is really going to mean a lot to myself and the Bob Jane T-Marts business.’
Today, Bob Jane T-Marts is Australia’s most successful independent tyre retailer, with 117 franchises nationally.
After his court battle in 2013, Rodney Jane said publicly that he had fallen out with his father years previously.
Daily Mail Australia has approached Rodney Jane for comment.
Bob Jane (above with Laree) after the pair reconciled following their bitter split, arrive at the Melbourne Supreme Court for a civil suit he launched against his son Rodney and lost