Aunt leads tributes to one of sport’s brightest prospects after tragic accident in Co Meath
The aunt of a young road racer who died “doing what he loved” has told how his death has plunged the family into grief.
Jack Oliver (22), from Limavady, came off his bike in the Supersport event at the Kells Road Races in Co Meath on Sunday. He had been competing there for the first time.
It was the first Irish national road race in almost three years after all meetings were cancelled in 2020 and last year because of the Covid pandemic.
The world of road racing was yesterday coming to terms with the news that Jack, one of one of the brightest young prospects in the sport, had died.
Jack’s aunt, Carol, told the Belfast Telegraph that while he only started racing last year, he won his first race at the Cookstown 100 in April, grabbing honours in the senior support class.
She said Jack was riding impressively when he went out on his bike at the weekend.
“It was his first time on the track. He’s used to up here in Northern Ireland, the likes of Cookstown,” she added.
“We don’t know a lot about it, but apparently he was going 170mph, hit a bump, lost control and the bike flipped in the air.
“It’s just a tragedy. His mother and father are devastated — we all are.”
Carol explained that Jack’s passion for racing started when he was a just a boy.
“His father was into bikes and would’ve taken him on the back of the bike from a young age. He took an interest in it,” she said.
Carol’s son, David, travelled to Meath to support Jack at the weekend.
“They got up early on Sunday morning to work on the 400cc bike and to clean it up for him,” she said.
“Jack was still in bed, so Tom [Jack’s father] said he would make him some breakfast. Jack said, ‘Thank you, Dad’.
“He was jolly enough. Little did he know that was his last breakfast.
“Jack’s father is devastated and won’t talk to anybody. He’s still down there.
“[He hasn’t] even got a chance to see his own son yet. They don’t know when his body is going to be released.
“It’s just tragic. This is what Jack lived for — it was in his blood. He was hoping to ride in the North West 200 next year.”
Resting on a bench on the main street next to his Harley Davidson, motorcycle enthusiast William Gamble was emotional to hear of the death of someone he knew.
Mr Gamble has followed road racing all of his life and understood Jack’s passion for the sport.
“I’ve known Jack since he was no height. His father reared him on motorbikes,” he said.
“They’ve been a road racing family all their lives.
“His father raced and his brother, Robbie, as well. Jack just lived for motorbikes, so he did.
“I couldn’t believe yesterday, to be honest.
“I broke down in tears to the wife when we heard about it. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Jack’s father, Mr Gamble explained, had worked tirelessly in forestry to help finance his son’s motorbike career.
He paid tribute to the young rider, saying that while there were others with endless resources, Jack’s talent meant he stood out from the rest and could compete with the best.
Mr Gamble said: “It’s the rider, not the bike.”