Now coming up to her fourth Day of Champions Jan says she’s made great friends, and got up close with her heroes while volunteering with Two Wheels for Life. In that time she’s also clinched a job at Formula 1® and made her on track debut.
How did you find out about Two Wheels? And why did you get involved?
I’d used the Two Wheels helmet parks at Silverstone for the MotoGP and was aware of Day of Champions. But it was from a Facebook post in 2017 asking for volunteers, that made me sign up.
I had no idea what I would be doing, but I wanted to meet other people who shared my interests, support a great charity, and see my favourite riders up close.
I just turned up with an open mind and have loved being a part of the event ever since.
What is it about the work Two Wheels support that appeals to you and why?
The charity’s work is incredible – providing motorcycles, and the means of keeping them on the road, as a way to increase access to healthcare in parts of Africa. Because of them health workers have become more mobile and can provide care in areas that were previously inaccessible.
We have access to great healthcare here in the UK, and perhaps take it for granted. Finding out about how Two Wheels has improved the lives of so many is heartening.
Tell us about your relationship with bikes.
My obsession with motorcycles started when my brother was given an Evel Knievel toy for Christmas, which I promptly pinched! My family weren’t into bikes and despaired of me watching everything motorcycle-related on TV from ‘Junior Kickstart’ to the ‘Look Back’ adverts.
I got my bike licence in the 1990s and my late Dad bought me a 1968 Lambretta which had a Stage 4-tuned engine fitted. Being five-foot-one I always thought I was too small for a big bike and it was only after seeing Dani Pedrosa ride in MotoGP that I finally got the courage to get my first big bike, a Ducati Monster.
I love MotoGP and followed Foggy’s ascendance in World Superbikes in the ’90s. Bike Shed announced their festival at Lydden Hill this year I figured I’d enter to race my Monster.
I’ve done a couple of track days but racing against other competitiors on a real track was utterly terrifying. I accidentally qualified in the Rapid Class of the Street Bike Cup but didn’t crash and wasn’t last so I consider that a result!
Sitting on the grid waiting for the lights to go out was the longest ten seconds of my life though. The Bike Shed Festival was a great fun event with loads to see and do and I’m now thinking what categories I want to race in next year.
Last year I expanded my garage to include a (mildly lowered) Ducati Panigale 959 Special Edition. I seem to only ride Italian bikes! Riding the Ducati Two-Seater at Silverstone is on my bucket list for sure!
How does volunteering work with your day job?
I’m the Head of Procurement for Formula 1. I started in March this year. Having spent time in the MotoGP race paddock whilst volunteering at Day of Champions meant I had an appreciation and some knowledge of what goes on to make a racing weekend happen, albeit in a different discipline. Maybe having more understanding of the environment helped in my interview!
What have you done as a volunteer and what have you got out of it?
The first two years at Day of Champions, I helped out in the charity’s VIP hospitality tent, setting up the catering tables and serving food and drinks to guests of the charity, and in my second year I also looked after refreshments backstage. I ended up making my ‘Junior Kickstart’ hero Dougie Lampkin tea at one point, when he was taking a break from performing his stunts in the Entertainment Zone.
This year I went up a day early to help with the set up and worked on the merchandise and memorabilia stall. We sold everything from racers’ used sliders and leathers to t-shirts, signed pictures, and even Marc Marquez’s hand-drawn illustration of his ideal track from a 2018 press conference!
I’ve met amazing like-minded people and made some great friends. It’s always very fulfilling to hear the grand total announced after the Day of Champions auction.
So many people put a lot into getting the event to happen, from the charity, the riders and teams, and of course the volunteers. That money will make a real difference and will save many lives.
I’ve been very lucky to meet some of the riders, who are very relaxed and accommodating at the event. I’ve met my hero, Danilo Petrucci, he signed my Petrucci replica helmets (one of which I wore whilst racing). I also finally met Dani Pedrosa, who actually turned out to be a bit taller than me!
The volunteers are a big family and it’s heartening to see the same faces every year. I was a bit nervous the first time I came to volunteer but I was made very welcome by everyone and I’m so glad I did it.
Would you recommend volunteering with Two Wheels?
I would recommend it to anyone who loves racing and can spare a little time to make a difference to many lives. I look forward to Day of Champions every year now – it’s one of my race calendar highlights.