Cadwell 2011, A day I will never ever forget
Warning…. This is going to be a long post!!
There is no real reason for me to blog about this day other than it’s what I am sat here thinking about right now! Blogging is different for everyone but for me I will be sat thinking about things and putting it down in a blog is the stop point from when I go from thinking about it to actually getting upset! It’s quite therapeutic!
Anyway so brace yourself this could be a long blog!
British Superbikes 2011, a year I will never forget for many reasons. I was with a team called Gearlink Kawasaki and their main rider Ben Wilson was leading the Supersport championship. This was a massive thing to be involved in for me and the reason I started brollying in the first place, to be part of a team, seeing what goes on behind the scenes and involved in all the action! It was like all my dreams had been answered being part of Gearlink, they had a top running rider so that meant being at the front of the grid seeing how much the championship meant to these guys. Not only that but the amazing team owners made me feel part of the family, included me in everything, treated me as a person not just a pretty face there to stand on the grid. It had to be my best year in racing.
One of the main highlights of this year was meeting an amazing person called Benjamin Gautrey, Ben raced for a team called MWR Kawasaki who at the time were also part of the Gearlink team so I got to do the grid for them as well. The first time I met Ben his smile made me melt, it was a wonderful smile and I thought aww this boy is so cute! I say Boy as he was only 18 at the time and such a little charmer, he loved all the grid girls and used to call me the angel of the north as I was northern!
Cadwell superbikes is my favourite circuit and one I look forward to every year. This year I brought my husband and daughter with me racing and even though I was still doing the grid I also wanted to spend time with them. Megan was only 7 at the time so loved having her picture taken with the riders, and Ben Gautrey was the only one she loved, she met a lot of famous riders that weekend yet for some reason kept asking when Ben was racing so she could cheer him on, he had that effect on people!
On race day I got asked to do the grid for Ben. I said no, a decision I have lived to regret ever since.
This was because the way the pits were you had to cross the track to get to the pit lane which meant stuck down in the pit lane for long periods of time. I was already doing the grid for the Supersport race so decided to spend more time with Justin and Megan and watch the race from the top of the hill with them.
What happened next I will never ever forget, second by second, from the point we saw the crash to the point we saw it was Ben and knew it was bad. I knew I had to be with the team and find out what was going on so as soon as I could I got across the track to the pit Lane to find our what was going on.
As time past I sat and waited patiently away from the medical centre and then after what felt like ages I saw my friend Gill walking away from the medical centre and I knew what had happened. I took myself into the toilet in the little building and cried my eyes out, I had to hide as there were lots of tv cameras and people outside that didn’t know the severity of the crash and I knew I had to keep it to myself and act calm.
The worst bit was that I had to go on the grid for the Supersport race knowing what I knew, only a handful of people knew at that point and I wasn’t meant to be one of them. I borrowed some sunglasses to hide my eyes and on I went. It was just typical on this occasion Eurosport decided to interview the rider and the camera was right in my face. I just kept thinking don’t cry for gods sake!
I got text messages after from loads of people saying they saw me on tv and I looked really miserable! Course they didn’t know why.
After the race it was announced that Benjamin Gautrey had lost his life in the crash, aged just 18 years old.
A lot of people stayed around upset, comforting each other but I just ran, I didn’t say good bye to anyone, I just got in the car and went home in silence, crying most of the journey to myself. It took me a long time before I could watch the race back on the tv and found it very upsetting. Not just because it was a reminder of that day but because while a lot of the live feed was going on the cameras constantly caught myself and my friend Karla in the background and we knew how we felt at that time and how worried we were. I watched it once and relived it once then deleted it. Whether deleting it was the right thing to do I don’t know but I just couldn’t have it sat on my sky plus box as a constant reminder of that awful day.
I only knew Ben a short amount of time but I can honestly say he has changed my life forever. Ben was an elite sportsman and was top at everything he did, he played football, cricket, swam, did gymnastics, cycling, bike racing and more. He taught me to never give up, that if you work hard you can achieve your dreams and the sky is the limit. He was a truly amazing person. Ben even had a huge effect on my daughter and she only met him once. From meeting Ben Megan isn’t interested in hanging out with her friends in town and what’s to spend every second of her spare time doing something productive from karting to running, horse riding, cheerleading and Allsorts! She says she wants to be like Ben and the best in everything she puts her mind to, I am very proud of how sporty she has become so thanks Ben.
Heaven truly has gained an angel.
Through knowing Ben I then met his family who are equally just as inspirational. They have set up a charity called the Benjamin Gautrey Foundation and have raised thousands of pounds to help young people like Ben achieve their dreams. They have paid for sports kits for local sports associations, helped young bike racers with their safety equipment needed to race and even set up a race academy to help young riders improve their skills on the track.
Since this day I have also done a lot of fundraising for them, I have organised a couple of big charity band nights and even jumped out of a plane! I think I have raised about £5000 in total and plan to continue doing so. If something so positive can come out of something so awful then that’s got to be a good thing.
I know a lot of people don’t believe in angels and I don’t know what I believe but I truly think that Ben is looking down proud on everything his family have achieved in his name. I always say hello to him when I return to Cadwell where he lost his life doing something he loved and living the dream.
Benjamin Gautrey 1992 -2011 #25