Nfld. & Labrador

A father, son and grandson reunite on a Newfoundland race track thanks to DNA test

Three Newfoundland men who happen to share a love of mechanics found out they're all related through a DNA testing website. What's more, some of them already knew each other.

3 men who already knew each other realize they are family, and that they share a love of mechanics

From left, Jason Gedge Jr., Jason Gedge and Ron Thomas, three generations of men brought together by a DNA test. While they've known each other for years in racing circles, they were surprised to learn this year that they're related. (Submitted by Robyn Pollett)

It's a scorching summer afternoon, and Ron Thomas is ready to race his blue and yellow Honda Civic around the track at Thunder Valley Speedway in Bishop's Falls, N.L.

It's something he's been doing alone for over a decade. But this year, his son and grandson are both here too, sharing his passion for fast engines and screeching tires.

The reason it took them so long to race together is one straight out of the movies.

Amateur racecar driver Ron Thomas waits for the green light at Thunder Valley Speedway. He's always loved cars and now is happy to share the passion with his birth son and grandson, who share his love of mechanics. (Submitted by Robyn Pollett)

All three men share a love of mechanics. Scrapyard owner Thomas, 66, says he's always taking things apart and putting them back together. His son, Jason Gedge, 44, says he was the same. And Gedge's son, Jason Jr., who's 21, says he grew up around the things his dad loved: car parts and grease.

But it was only this year when Gedge, who was adopted at birth, learned Thomas is his biological father, thanks to a DNA test.

Neil Thomas, Ron's brother, submitted his DNA to an online registry this spring. Most of the names that came back from it were ones he recognized, but one didn't make sense to him — Gedge. 

"The last name wasn't common in the family, either on my mother's side or the father's side," Neil said.

After exchanging messages with a woman who had also submitted DNA to the registry, Neil realized the Gedge in his records was his nephew. Thomas put his infant son up for adoption in the late 1970s in Labrador City.

Neil Thomas, far right, watches as his family members race. He is Ron Thomas's brother. He registered his DNA on a website, which led to matches with unfamiliar names and eventually led him to Thomas's son, Jason Gedge, who was given up for adoption at birth. (Submitted by Robyn Pollett)

He called his brother Ron, and told him he'd found his son, Jason Gedge, living in Corner Brook. Thomas lives in Deer Lake, Nfld; his son lives about 50 kilometres down the road in Corner Brook.

The reunion calls began. A day after Ron and his son spoke over the phone about the DNA match, they met face to face.

But it wasn't the first time the men had met. Gedge says he actually bought parts from his father's scrapyard, and once attended the same wedding party.

Three generations of a family in central Newfoundland have the love of cars and racing is in their genes. The CBC's Melissa Tobin brings us their remarkable story. 5:18

"It was just there last week, it come up in my memories on Facebook, at a wedding I was at 13 years ago," Gedge said. "Just random picture I took. There's a picture of [Ron] … at the same wedding. And I never had a clue about it."

Striking similarities

Despite living his entire life away from his biological father, nobody can deny Gedge's likeness to Thomas.

Gedge believes the answer to the problem of nature versus nurture is pretty clear, given everything he's learned about his biological dad. His adoptive father, Joe Gedge, says he's been proven wrong in that debate.

Joe Gedge, left, Jason's adoptive father, says he once believed that environment had more of an effect than biology on who his adopted son would become. But after seeing all the similarities Jason shares with his biological family members, he's changed his mind. (Submitted by Robyn Pollett)

"At one time in my life I would have argued that environment was the influence on people," Joe said. "But … I realized how similar Jason is to his biological parents. It is amazing how similar they are. They're very smart. They look alike. Their hair is the same colour. It's amazing."

For the men, they're happy to be reunited. Gedge and his son are now working at Thomas's scrapyard and they're all getting to know each other better.

It's a bond that's going to be helpful for Thomas on race days.

"I came for years with no pit crew, no nothing," Thomas said. "Now we got a big race team. Now we got a full pit crew."

The men think it's great to get to know more family — and they're also excited to have gained extra help in the race pit. (Submitted by Robyn Pollett)

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