Weston Beach Race - 30 September 2016

The HydroGarden Weston Beach Race Young Gun Award



This year the highest placed 19-year-old to finish the solo event on the 9th of October 2016 will be presented with the Young Gun Award in memory of Dan Horton-Tilley, who sadly passed away in his sleep last year, and was an avid fan of the beach race.

Jeanette Aldridge, Dan’s mum, tells us the story behind the award and about Dan’s passion for the Weston-Super-Mare event as his uncle Brad’s mechanic.

Dan my Son, was born relaxed, he was a laid back baby and a fearless toddler, by the age of 3 he could not only ride a bike, he could swim and ski.

As a little boy, you could say Dan was into his motocross, when I visited his school for parents evening I found he had told his teachers and classmates all about the motocross he did at weekends. According to his teacher, he kept the class enthralled with his stories of dirt and danger and many of his hand drawn pictures depicted the same. The only slight problem was that not only did he not have a dirt bike; he’d never asked for one! Despite that, he lived and breathed motocross!

At the age of 11, his Uncle Brad (Tilley) became his idol when HE got a bike and took up the sport. Dan just loved being around the bikes and watching his uncle race. He knew that if he had a bike he’d never crash and never get hurt. I just found it completely nerve-wracking, was convinced Brad would get hurt, and had palpitations whenever Dan mentioned the subject of bikes – he knew in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t have a bike - at least, not until he was grown up like Brad!

Over the next couple of years, he became Uncle Brad’s most loyal supporter - accompanying him on every local race and the occasional long distance weekend away - which included a little event in Weston - his first Beach Race. I cringed when he came back glowing with stories of riders falling and being stuck in sand. He had absolutely loved it! In 2009 he came back gutted because in Dan’s words “the race had been cancelled because a few people fell off”.

By the time he reached 14 years of age, he was one of a group of lads at school who were riding in or involved in motocross – his best mate Jamie Cooper was about to start, so they hatched a plan, Jamie would get his parents to buy him a bike and Dan would be his “mechanic”. So on Sunday mornings, off they would trek to Mallory Park with Jamie trying to improve and Dan yelling at him to go faster – and with some success. After about a year Jamie got his racing license and now Dan had two riders who depended on his mechanicing and support skills, so most weekends he was out in the thick of it. And Dan had the best of both worlds – complete involvement in the sport he loved, with the added benefit that danger was of no concern to him - he was watching from the sidelines!

From that first time at Weston, Dan didn’t miss a Weston Beach Race, in recent years he had become an integral part of Brad’s pit crew, and finally, he had started to dabble in riding. He enjoyed the whole experience so much, that he had tried to persuade us all to go there, but it wasn’t until last year after Dan suddenly passed away in his sleep that the whole family managed to attend - in Dan’s memory. His uncle Brad raced and achieved his best result ever. 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 a better way, and what better way to do it than with a trophy?

Dan will be forever 19, so an award presented to the highest placed 19-year-old to finish seemed a nice reward for a promising rider and fitting tribute to a son who lived and loved motocross and constantly entertained us with his enthusiasm and excitement for the sport.

Jeanette Aldridge

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