Steve Tarrant, who suffered life-changing injuries at Goodwood in 2000, has been awarded for his courage and commitment. Rachael Rowe reports
‘You haven’t seen the last of me yet,’ Steve Tarrant famously said, after an accident at the 2000 Goodwood Festival of Speed resulted in the amputation of his right leg.
He returned to marshalling in a wheelchair, and has worked at leading motoring events. At this year’s annual Night of Champions at the RAC Club in London’s Pall Mall, Motorsport UK recognised Steve’s 30-plus years as a race steward with a Lifetime Achievement Award – the highest honour bestowed by the Motorsport UK board.
Steve describes the moment he got the news: ‘Initially, it was a shock. You don’t expect something like that coming through the door! And you certainly don’t expect them to recognise a marshal like me when you see the other names on the awards list.’
Previous winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award have included Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart – and now Steve Tarrant of King’s Stag.
Locals may have seen him at the annual Sturminster Newton New Year’s Day Vintage Car Rally, busily marshalling the cars from the middle of the road. But Steve has marshalled at other, rather more glamorous, places like Le Mans, Goodwood and Silverstone. Marshals are all volunteers who play a critical role in motorsport racing.
Awards night on Pall Mall
‘It was a wonderful evening, and I wish they had filmed it from start to finish.’ says Steve. ‘Although getting me to the RAC Club was quite an ordeal for the taxi driver! They handed out 35 awards for winners of national championships, and then they had the special awards. There were actually two Lifetime Achievement Awards. One went to Ron Dennis, the former owner of McLaren Formula 1 … and the other went to me! It was a bit surreal seeing all these people you read about, on the track or on TV, and they were coming up and shaking my hand.’
Steve’s main career has been in IT but he has always loved motorsports. He jumped at the opportunity to volunteer as a steward, excited to enjoy the experience of motorsport racing from a different perspective. His life changed dramatically following his accident. He was standing near the finish line with the black and white chequered flag when a car travelling at 140 miles an hour crashed into him. ‘I was in the right place but at the wrong time. And I was the lucky one. The driver was killed and another steward died later in hospital.’
Two years later, Steve was back on the track marshalling, now in his TGA Vita Scooter. He was also invited back to Goodwood – this time as a VIP.
Initially, Steve had to fight for recognition as a wheelchair-bound marshal – somewhat unusual in the world of motorsports. His mobility scooter also featured in his success at becoming a Guinness World Record holder in 2014. The award was for the longest distance travelled in 24 hours on a mobility scooter. Steve’s 190.2 miles was completed with more than 1,800 laps at Goodwood, only stopping briefly for battery changes.
He now inspires other wheelchair users to become stewards. ‘There are plenty of jobs out there that you don’t need two arms or two legs for,’ says Steve, a photojournalist with a lifetime of unique experiences.
Is there a stand-out moment in Steve’s career as a marshal? ‘There are several, especially after three decades. Being on the 24 Hour Le Mans race’s grid before the start was momentous. And meeting drivers like Lewis Hamilton or Tom Kristensen and chatting about racing because they want to talk to you just as much as you want to talk to them.’