Safety concerns force RJ to step back from racing

RJ Woolsey (second right) during a Tandragee 100 discussion with riders. He has decided to step down as clerk of the course due to safety concerns. Pic by Pacemaker.
RJ Woolsey (second right) during a Tandragee 100 discussion with riders. He has decided to step down as clerk of the course due to safety concerns. Pic by Pacemaker.

RJ Woolsey is stand down as clerk of the course at the Tandragee 100 next year because of safety fears over motorcycling road racing.

The Ahorey man has spent the past few years as clerk of the course at the Tandragee 100 road race but the 2016 motorcycling meeting will mark his final event in the high-profile role.

That decision comes as part of a choice to reduce links with a sport which has dominated his life but at a cost which is now proving too great.

The former rider points to key factors such as a growing weight of responsibility on his shoulders as clerk of the course, the recent death of medic Dr John Hinds and overall helpless feeling against road racing’s dangers.

“Noel Murphy’s death at Tandragee in 2014 is something I will never forget and then the sport suffered another massive loss recently with Dr John Hinds, someone who had devoted so much time to saving people,” said RJ. “However, it is not so much an emotional decision following such loss but more a logical conclusion in the knowledge that road racing safety has no bottom.

“I know how much time and effort is put in by everyone to improve our Tandragee safety features and in the sport overall.

“Ultimately, it will never be enough to prevent more tragedy and that realisation is why I am stepping back.

“I have two young children, Simon is nine years old and Victoria now five.

“Ten years on they will not want to spend as much time with me but, at the minute, I will focus on my children.

“It is not about one incident but more the overall sense that you can never do enough.”

RJ admits struggling to regain the mindset of his early racing days during a recent return to the saddle.

“I could not switch off that awareness of what could happen, having seen everything as clerk of the course,” he said. “You must commit 100 per cent when on the bike and that helped it all hit home.

“Don’t get me wrong, I am willing to offer as much assistance as is needed for the next guy after 2016 and will stay involved in racing but just in a reduced role.

“Road racing is one big family and every accident hits us all hard.

“For me, it is the best cross-community sport we have and brings so much tourism and revenue into the country.

“If it was banned then riders would continue to race but just not in an environment we work so hard to make as safe as possible.

“However, even with the wonderful work of so many to improve safety, it cannot prevent another tragedy so I need to step back.”