When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Southampton powerboat Mike Lovell racer 'died doing what he loved'
ABOUT 1,000 people are expected to pay their respects to Southampton powerboat racer Mike Lovell.
A parade of Ferraris, Porsches and other supercars will next week follow a funeral cortege from Brookspeed in Portswood where Mike, 27, worked, to his funeral service in Sholing in a mark of the high regard he was held in the racing world.
Race teams will form a guard of honour at St Mary’s Church where the service will be broadcast over a PA system to the hundreds expected to gather outside.
Mike died of multiple injuries after an accident in the powerboat he was racing in Weymouth in the final race of the P1 SuperStock UK series.
It was his first season in the hi-speed sport, racing for the Eastleigh -based Peters & May team.
Speaking to the Daily Echo his mum, Tracy, 48, pictured, told how she watched the accident unfold from the shoreline.
At first she didn’t think it was so serious and had previously told her son she was more worried about him getting attacked by sharks if he was thrown into the water. She recalled divers and race medics being in the water “within seconds” of his powerboat rolling over.
Tracy said she made her way to the quayside where she found paramedics were working on Mike in the lifeboat that had brought him ashore.
“Everyone was telling me to back off but I got through,” she said.
She said she “knew it was bad” when her son told emergency services: “Please get my mum away” although he managed to wave at her from the lifeboat.
Mike’s boat had hit a wave from the wash of another powerboat and rolled, throwing him and his navigator into the water. They were then struck by a pursuing race boat.
“It was just a freak accident. It’s nobody’s fault,” Tracy said.
Tracy was driven to Southampton General Hospital where Mike was airlifted by a coastguard helicopter. He underwent a series of operations for multiple injuries, which included the loss of an arm, but despite a brave fight for his life he died in the early hours.
The following night, around 500 members of the local “cruising” community of modified car enthusiasts, of which Mike had been a member, met up at Hedge End in a tribute rally.
Tracy, a former solicitor’s assistant, said she had been “overwhelmed” by the messages of support and number of people who had paid tributes to her son from around the world.
She said racing cars and more recently powerboats had been his life and he “absolutely loved it”.
“I would rather he died like that than in a stupid car crash. He died doing what he wanted to do. It was the way he should have gone. He had done so much in his life.”
Tracy’s partner Mark Ford , 51, a lorry driver, described Mike as “the biggest joker around”, who was “always on the go” and ready to offer his mechanical expertise at all hours to friends and clients.
The couple recalled how Mike used to come by the family home in Heathfield Close, Sholing, for Sunday lunch – and to drop off his washing – driving some of the supercars he was working on.
Tracy said Mike, who helped bring up three children, now aged 5, 6, and 7, although he had no children of his own, had always been a “happy bloke” and a bit of a “softy”, who was “always there for anybody that needed him.”
She said Mike had recently been reunited with a former partner, who had been left “devastated” by his death.
Mike was known by his friends as the G-Man, a reference to his love of VW cars, particularly Golfs.
He owned four cars which he had modified and which will now be resprayed and done up for his funeral, although Mike always dreamed of owning a Ferrari F40.
Mike’s navigator Dan Whapples, 32, from Warsash, remains in hospital but is expected to make a recovery from his injuries. He stood in for Mike’s regular race navigator Luke Elkin, who had hurt his back in an earlier race.
Tracy and Mark praised the emergency services and hospital staff who had fought to save Mike’s life.
Tracy said he had always wanted to be a motor mechanic and joined Brookspeed as an apprentice around ten years ago, working up to the position of workshop manager and race engineer.
His boss at Brookspeed, Martin Braybook, said he had a “warm and engaging personality” and was “very popular and much loved by his colleagues and peers in the motor racing community”.
Mike had been a key part of Brookspeed’s multi-championshipwinning motor racing team, based at its workshop in Empress Road, running among others GT cars at both Le Mans and Daytona. The Peters & May powerboat racing team was taken over by Brookspeed earlier this year.
- Mike Lovell’s funeral will take place at 1pm on Friday October 5 at St Mary’s Church in St Monica’s Road, Sholing.
- The cortege will leave Brookspeed in Empress Road at 12.30pm for those wishing to travel with Mike on his journey to the church.
- Mike’s family have requested mourners do not wear black. All that knew him are welcome to attend.