Twenty-two year old Hayley Capewell devotes her life to racing. “Many years ago when my mum became pregnant with me, my dad decided that would be a great time to start racing! My dad raced solos but I was always far more attached to sidecars. We used to go to my parents’ friends (Andy and Yvonne Hunt) for parties, and Andy had a Royal Enfield big wheeler sidecar outfit in his garage that I would spend most of the time sat on. He promised me as soon as I turned 16 he would take me out to introduce to me the sport, and that is exactly what he did. Our first meeting was at Lydden Hill in Kent on July 30th and 31st 2010. We had a blinding weekend and won our first ever race as a team. Andy and I did three meetings that year, and as he had stuck to his promise and introduced me to the sport he went back to racing solos the following year.
But it wasn’t long until Hayley was back in the chair.
“I received a phone call whilst at college a few months later from Phil Biggadyke. A few people had told Phil I was looking for a ride and to get in touch with me. I didn’t know Phil but asked around and everyone I spoke to told me he was a really good driver and I would be completely safe with him. From there we met a few times and began out season together in 2011.” Together, they raced in the British Historic Racing championship on a classic pre-’72 Triumph kneeler outfit. They came second overall – losing out on first by just three points, but Hayley insists that they bonded really well as a team, and that everything progressed positively.
“I used to go and spend most weekends with Phil and we would always be talking about racing and where our next adventure was going to take us. In 2011 Phil and I went to the Nurburgring in Germany and competed there in a regulatory race which was so much fun. We also went to our first ever road race in Belgium a circuit called Gedinne, Phil had raced there for many years but it was my first time, I absolutely loved it, it soon became my favourite circuit and we returned the following five years.”
But it didn’t stop there. In 2013, they headed to the Pre-TT and received the “best newcomers” title in their race. It was only then that they decided they would buy an F2 outfit and work hard to gain enough signatures to enter the TT in the following year. “We purchased a Ireson from Keith Walters, gained our signatures and off we went to the Isle of Man to compete at the world famous TT races. We were the last to qualify but even starting there is a dream so many only wish they could achieve. We finished both races and at the age of just 19 I became the youngest female passenger to every qualify and finish both races which is a huge achievement!”
It wasn’t until 2016 that Hayley met Sarah Stokoe, who would later become her passenger. “We became really good friends and had half joked about buying a sidecar together for me to drive and Sarah to passenger. One day whilst watching my partner competing as passenger at Oliver’s Mount, I had a lightbulb moment and asked Sarah if I should ring Phil to see if he would sell his F2 to us. Me and Sarah discussed finances and decided we would go for it.” Before they committed to purchasing the F2, Hayley’s father-in-law loaned them his sidecar so they could head off for a test day in Teesside, to see if Hayley could drive it, and if the two would get on well as a team. And let’s just say the rest was history, as that was where Team Stokewell Racing was born.
Hayley says that the team are lucky, as mechanics are in the (extended) family. “Fortunately for myself and Sarah, my Fiancé, his father and his two brothers are mechanical gods and guided us through every step of the way teaching us many things we honestly had no clue about when we began. We had decided between us we were going to racing with the FSRA British pre-injection & post classic championship purely because it was affordable and nicely spread out through the year and didn’t clash to much with our partner’s race meetings.”
One of the things I was really keen to hear about was whether or not they had experienced prejudice when it came to being “women in a male dominated sport”, but Hayley insists they have been treated equally. “A lot of people use the “women in a man’s world” phrase and to be completely honest it couldn’t be much further from the truth. Yes, we may have lady parts but that is really the only difference. There are lots of fantastic women drivers and passengers and we are all fully supported by every single other person, male or female at any meeting.”
During the off season, Hayley still dedicates her time to bikes. “From March till October we are away racing at any given destination. Either Sarah and I are racing, Sam and his brother Adam, Tom and his driver Sean, Sam’s Dad or Sarah’s partner. We have a very busy year. When it’s closed season we are flat out working on the bike. Our lives literally revolve around working to earn money to go racing, working on the bikes and travelling from one end of the country to the other to race meetings.”
To finish the interview, I asked Hayley what her racing goals were both in 2017 and long term. She said: “I would absolutely love to drive the TT but I wouldn’t ever say this is in our thought process at the moment. We are new to the sport in the positions we are in now and are certainly not in any position to start thinking about the TT. To us as a team, as long as we keep coming in smiling and enjoying ourselves that is really our goal.
We are currently leading our championship after the first round and we would both love to finish in top three but we would never get too cocky so I guess our end goal is to finish our first season safely, Sarah and I and the bike all in one piece, you can’t beat that!”
Watch out for Stokewell Racing at the FRSA Pre-Injection championship, with the next round being at Donington Park on the 13th-14th May.
Team Stokewell Racing would like to thank:
Mark and Tracey Capewell
CES. (Simon Christie, Sam Christie, Tom Christie & Adam Christie)
And every person that has purchased team wear.
Stokewell Racing love what they do, but are always looking for sponsors to help them out. If you are interested in getting your company or your name on their bike, or even just purchasing some merchandise, please do get in touch with Hayley at email@example.com