Manx Grand Prix: Wayne Hamilton’s talent shone so brightly
What should have been another glorious day of Northern Ireland celebration on the Isle of Man became a tragic requiem for young Wayne Hamilton.
The promising 20-year-old rider had been tipped for the top only a few weeks ago by rival Ryan Farquhar, one of three local winners on the saddest of days.
Wayne promptly delivered in what should have been a career launching pad with a superb win in the Manx Grand Prix Newcomers' Race on Saturday night.
Instead a crash in yesterday's Junior race claimed his young life. Like many before him, Wayne knew the dangers but that will be little consolation to his grieving family as the road racing fraternity join them in mourning an all too familiar loss on a particularly bleak weekend for racing.
We'd already lost Tyrone rider Adrian McFarland in a crash in the Czech Republic and now Wayne Hamilton on the same day 18-year-old Ben Gautrey, from Southport, was killed at the British Superbike meeting at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire.
Accidents and fatalities are the unspoken downside to the thrills of racing that attract so many young men and women riders and many thousands of spectators to the sport — but no-one ever becomes so anaesthetised as to be unaffected.
Legend Phillip McCallen has known tragedy as well as triumph in a hugely successful career his young Portadown townsman had been hoping to follow.
Attending the event with Wayne's father David, an emotional McCallen said last night: “The biking community is big but everyone supports each other and we will support the Hamilton family. We know accidents can happen and worse still, fatalities can happen, though you always believe it won't happen to you or it can't happen.
“But everyone involved will help and support when something goes wrong. Really, we're just a big family.”
Yesterday's winning riders Ryan Farquhar, Barry Davidson and Andrew Brady joined in tributes to Wayne with Dungannon's Farquhar saying: “Wayne only lived a couple of miles away from me.
“Its very, very sad. I had a good race with him at the Ulster Grand Prix and after the race I said he could go all the way, right to the top.”
Andrew Brady, who won the race in which Wayne was killed, said: “I've known Wayne since he started racing and he was a brilliant talent on a motorcycle.
“He would have been one of the top names in years to come if he’d had his chance. I was talking to him on the way over here on the boat and he was in good form, laughing and joking. He was very happy.”
Barry Davidson added: “Wayne had such a bright future when you think about all that he had achieved so far. He was a lovely fellow, just a youngster really. I can't take in what has happened.”
Back home, veteran rider John Burrows said: “Wayne’s death is a devastating loss to his family and a terrible blow to the sport. I raced against him as recently as the Ulster Grand Prix and could not stay with him. I had high hopes for him as he was the brightest prospect I could see emerging on the road-racing scene.”
Racing photographer Stephen Davison, who took the final pictures of Wayne, perhaps summed it up the most succinctly, saying: “Forget racing and think of his family. No matter how he looked on a bike, he was just a ‘wean’ really.”