A SPECIAL AWARD FOR 19-YEAR-OLDS: THE HYDROGARDEN WESTON BEACH RACE YOUNG GUN AWARD
The HydroGarden Weston Beach Race Young Gun Award was introduced in 2016 and is a special award with a special story. Presented to the highest placed 19-year-old in the Adult Solo race, the award is given in memory of passionate race-goer, Dan Horton-Tilley, who sadly passed away in his sleep in 2015. Dan’s mum Jeanette Aldridge came up with the idea as a tribute to her son whilst recognising the efforts of a young rider, and for the past two years the award has been presented to Todd Kellett and Ross Parkinson.
Dan used to attend motocross events and the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race with his uncle Brad, for whom he was a support and mechanic. He had taken up riding himself and it is likely that he would have lined up to race the event given more time, as he was incredibly enthusiastic and passionate about Weston. We spoke to Jeanette to discover more about the award in his memory.
This is a truly special award in memory of your son, especially with his love and passion for Weston – can you tell us about that and why this tribute was created?
“Dan was mad about motocross and Weston was his holy grail – he pestered me to go with him for years, but regretfully I never did. For three or four months of every year he ate, drank and slept Weston. He loved the camaraderie and the excitement – it didn’t matter how well his friends did – it was about being there and being involved,” said Jeanette.
“In 2015 (the year of Dan’s death) the whole family attended Weston in his memory. I loved the whole thing and it was at that point I decided it would be nice to remember Dan at Weston annually, not just by attending, but somehow in a better way, so the trophy idea was born.”
“Incidentally, that same year my husband Jonathan (who works for HydroGarden) saw the opportunity for working with RHL and sponsoring the race. However, I do get cross when people assume the award is to do with the sponsorship – the trophy is nothing at all to do with HydroGarden, this is given by me, in memory of my son.”
“So, we came to our decisions about the race separately, but we both saw a way to make a difference – we call that ‘the Dan effect’!”
What do you think Dan would say about the award?
“He would be totally thrilled; he’d say ‘it’s wicked’ and be giddy with excitement!”
We know that Dan started riding after years of attending the beach race, do you think he would have raced at Weston following in his uncle’s footsteps?
“He was pestering me non-stop about taking up motocross, but apart from his uncle Brad Tilley, no-one in the family rode motocross so my gut feeling was ‘not if I have anything to do with it!’…But in truth he was getting to an age where he was making his own decisions, so it was only a matter of time before he over-ruled Mum!!”
Why is it important to recognise a 19-year-old specifically?
“Dan will be forever 19, so an award presented to the first 19-year-old to finish seemed a nice reward. It recognises the efforts of a promising rider and is a fitting tribute to a dearly beloved son who lived and loved motocross and constantly entertained us with his enthusiasm and excitement for the sport.”
This is the third year of the award and it has been presented to two racers – Todd Kellett and Ross Parkinson; does it feel or mean something different to you now these riders have received it?
“I would love the award to develop over time and become something that 19-year-olds really wanted to win. Of course, in year one Todd brilliantly won the race, so that was clearly his focus, but I don’t expect many 19-year olds to win the overall race, and it was great that Ross won the award last year (when of course Todd was 20!)”
Obviously, a rider can only ever win the award once – do you think this makes it even more special?
“I think most of the younger guys starting out in the senior race are trying it out, with maybe a chance of winning it at some point in the future when they’re that bit older, stronger and more experienced. So, for now, they just want to do their very best whatever the conditions, and I’m delighted that this award gives a 19-year-old something to ride for, with some recognition and hopefully it will encourage more 19 year olds to enter.”
Can you tell us about the award for this year?
“Yes, I’m really pleased because we’ve tweaked it as part of the idea to develop it over time. This year for the first time we’ll be giving a personal award, but we’ll also be presenting a trophy to the winner that will be engraved with their name that they can hold for a year, with the hope that next year they will come back and present it to the new Young Gun!”
Will you be presenting the award? And do you attend the race?
“Two questions in one! Yes, of course I attend the race, I’ll be there all weekend! As for the award, I’d like to present it. In fact, I was supposed to present both of the previous ones, but I’ve gotten very emotional in the past, (it’s an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend for me) so I have been very lucky that Jonathan (Dan’s step-dad) has presented the HydroGarden awards and he’s stepped in for me. I will try harder this year!”
Does Dan’s uncle still race?
“Yes. He’s knocking on a bit now, but Brad still puts in the hours behind the bar sorry, that should be bars, you know handlebars! in preparation for the race. Seriously, Brad wouldn’t miss the race for the world and now he rides every year in memory of Dan – that’s his tribute to what Dan meant to him. Also of course, because he knows the guys at HydroGarden, he has been known to get a bit of free kit when they sponsor him and Ian Copson, another mate of Dan’s, for the race.”
We look forward to the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race Powered by KTM this weekend and to seeing the best 19-year-old in the adult solo race receive the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race Young Gun Award in memory of Dan Horton-Tilley.