East Antrim’s Jamie Hamilton, who was seriously injured at last year’s Isle of Man TT races, has made a return to the section of the circuit where he came so close to losing his life.
The 25-year-old was involved in a high-speed crash during the Senior TT race on June 12. He had to be airlifted from the scene before spending several weeks in hospital.
The incident may have left him with serious arm and leg injuries, but he has certainly not lost his sense of humour.
Speaking about the recent Titanic NW 200 ‘Meet the Stars’ evening, where he received a rousing welcome, Hamilton joked: “I couldn’t believe how many people wanted to speak to me. I reckon I’m more popular now than when I raced!”
The Ballyclare ace recently travelled with friends to the 11th milestone at the end of the Cronk-y-Voddy straight and, for the first time, stood and talked through what happened on the day of the crash. In true Hamilton style, he saw a funny side to the incident. That’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea but that’s how the young racer gets through things.
He took time out to talk again about his progress and his trip to the Isle of Man.
“It’s not going too bad,” he said. “To be fair I’m keeping my head up. You always hear about people who have injuries like I have getting down and depressed about it but I always joke about and say that I am too stupid to think about it in that way.
“I’m in reasonably good form and I think that it’s more just the fact that I’m glad to be here telling a tale after it all.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m sore every day and have a lot of pain and aches but hopefully they will all go away and I’ll get back to the way I was.”
Asked about his first trip back to the Isle of Man since last summer’s high-speed crash, he added: “The plan was to always to return and have the Friday night after the Senior race that I never had. We went back and did that, had a bus tour of the track and a bit of a look at the scene where I crashed. I saw the trees and the signpost that I hit and, to be honest, it was intriguing to do and I was pretty impressed with it all.
“It was nice, in a way, to see why I am feeling like I am. It didn’t make anything come back to me. I still have no memory of it. It just seemed like another bit of land with a lot of trees that were broken and a signpost. I didn’t really associate it in my mind with where I got so badly hurt but it was good to listen to the people who saved my life telling me about what went on.”
Now he’s focused on staying positive on the road to recovery.
“It’s just a matter of getting back to where I used to be,” he said. “I have more operations to go through, with the first of them this month on my arm. It will set me back a bit but in the long run hopefully it will make me stronger and better. I’ll just have to deal with it and move on. I’m not that worried about it as it is all a means to getting better.”
So, is he looking forward to the start of the season?
“Yeah it will be interesting,” he replied. “There seems to be loads of different doors opening for me at the minute. Apart from teaching Malachi Mitchell-Thomas about the road circuits I have been offered a bit of commentary work at the races along with mechanic for the John Burrows Team. So it will be a completely different side to racing for me.
“I know after a race weekend I will be wishing it had been me on the bike. I know after testing a few weeks ago I wished it had been me on the track but there’s nothing I can do about it at the minute.
“There was a surprise invite by the Mid Antrim Club to do some safety work for them. I went around the circuit before practice began and offered advice. It was nice to do something like that but it was quite interesting that they asked me to do it in the first place after the last time I was there I just wrecked the place taking the whole bank out in the final race of the day.
“It’s funny that they want me to do safety inspector with my record but it’s nice to be asked to do these things. It was also good to work with Malachi Mitchell-Thomas at the opening road race of the season, the Mid Antrim.
“Along with John Burrows, the Cookstown BE Racing boss, we spent all week driving around the circuit teaching him the finer points of the track.
“It must have worked as he came away with three wins and two second places. Not bad for a newcomer,” he smiled.
“You think you are only good for racing motorbikes and you’re not good for anything else at the time so it’s nice when new things like this are offered. I know that I keep saying this but you realise just how much people think of you and they are not just following you for racing motorbikes. They follow you because they like you. I really do appreciate it. As for the season ahead, I’ll just keep helping the team and Malachi to win more races and get myself fitter.”