Former British Superbike champion Tommy Hill explains his break from motorsport
PUBLISHED: 14:32 07 February 2013 | UPDATED: 14:32 07 February 2013
In a matter of months, Tommy Hill's world has slowed from hurtling 175 miles per hour around racing tracks to changing nappies and learning about fatherhood.
Used to a life revolving around speed, the former British Superbike champion has made the decision to step back from the sport he’s loved since riding his first bike aged six.
His choice was one born of frustration and not, he admits, heavily swayed by the arrival of his first son, Harrison.
Though having now experienced life as a father, the 27-year-old Beckenham racer accepts “it would have been pretty tough going into the new season with a newborn”.
The 2011 British Superbike champion had become disheartened by the lack of opportunities to move into the World Championship, capped by a third place finish last season despite winning seven races over 12 rounds.
He said: “It came to a point where I wanted to do something different.
“I said to myself last year I should be in the World Championship, but the reality is that winning in 2011 didn’t do anything for me at all.
“I talked to teams, one who is capable of a top six finish, but there just weren’t any wages available.”
After discussing the possible step up with sponsors, Tommy realised his dreams of racing for a top team were unlikely as he wasn’t prepared to “finish 10th” or crash his “brains out”.
Setting himself high standards, his frustrations on the track were matched by financial concerns in a sport where cash is hard to come by, despite its popularity.
“It’s a shame the sport has got to that,” he said. “It’s one of the highest attended sports in the UK, you can get 55,000 people watching at Brands Hatch.
“But when you’re not getting your money it’s a kick in the teeth and I’ve had texts from riders saying they have respect for me standing up. But I haven’t stepped away just because of that.”
Tommy has been riding for more than 20 years, missing just a handful of races.
At the age of 14, his fledgling career was dealt a blow when he was given just 15 minutes to live after losing his spleen and puncturing a lung during a race.
He says that, like anyone, he needed a new challenge and has decided to invest more time in his design company, Imagedzign Concepts.
Twiddling his thumbs was not an option after reaching breathtaking speeds on a daily basis and he says keeping busy is in his blood.
“As a family we are busy people – if we’re at a loose end we will always find something to do.
“Designing is a bit like a drug for me, it was a habit and that has turned into a job.”
Despite concentrating on this new venture and helping partner Kate raise Harrison, the former champ has not ruled out a return to the sport.
He added: “A lot of people are confused about why I made the decision to step away, but I’m not old.
“I will now stand by my heart and, if the offer to return is good enough, I’ll do it.”