The father of a Wigan road racer killed in a four-bike crash says his family is clinging to the thought that he died doing what he loved.
Jamie Hodson was fatally injured in the accident which also involved younger brother Rob at the Ulster Grand Prix in August 2017.
A Belfast inquest heard the Bryn 35-year-old struck a telephone pole after coming off his bike at up to 120mph. It caused a fracture to the base of his skull which resulted in a brain stem bleed, leading to cardiac arrest.
Ruling Jamie died as a result of a severe injuries, coroner Joe McCrisken said no motorsport can ever be completely safe.
The inquest heard the race was into the third lap when tragedy struck. Jamie’s dad Jim, himself a successful racer, said he was in the pit lane when he heard of a collision.
“You hope for the best when you hear there’s been an accident,” he said.
“I didn’t see anything from where I was but knew the race had been stopped. It was about 20 minutes later when I was told both Jamie and Rob were involved.
“The next hour was a living nightmare. When Rob came back he could hardly walk. He told me Jamie didn’t look good.”
Jamie was rushed to hospital. “I was met there by police and after Rob arrived for X-rays we knew things weren’t good for Jamie,” Jim said.
“He only had about half an hour left. It was hugely traumatic.
“I’ve loved motorbikes all my life and sometimes you wish your children hadn’t followed in your footsteps, that they’d found their own passions in life, but motorbikes were their passion too.
“The one thing to hold on to is that Jamie died doing what he loved. He wouldn’t have wanted to do anything differently.”
Rob, 31, said the past 18 months had been difficult.
“It’s all still very raw, particularly for my mum (Carole),” he said.
“We’re still trying to get over what happened as a family and it will always be with us.
“Jamie was excited to get racing and had flown back from holiday in Cyprus with his girlfriend straight to Belfast to compete.
“We’d had a really good morning in practice. We were both feeling good.
“It happened in five or six seconds. That’s all it took from everything being fine to everything going wrong. But that’s racing. I slid out wide on the corner and I think I hit a lump of soil on the grass verge.”
That sent Rob off his bike, his Yamaha 600 Supersport machine sliding across the road into the path of three more racers following closely behind at the tricky Joey’s Windmill section.
Rob said: “The aftermath was terrible. Jamie took the force of the injury. I could see he wasn’t moving and they had put up a sheet to cover the scene.”
Rob returned to racing in the Isle of Man last summer after recovering from his injuries.
Pathologist Dr Chris Johnson determined that the head injury was ultimately what cost Jamie his life, although other injuries would also have been life-threatening.
Mr McCrisken said he was satisfied that all appropriate safety measures had been taken by race organisers.