Behind the Haslams - Anne Haslam

Behind every great man, there's a great woman. And that woman is also the mother of the mega-talented Leon Haslam. This is Anne Haslam's story

I WAS working in an ironmonger’s shop when I met Ron Haslam. I was studying dance and had visions of doing that as a career, and I was only 15 at the time while he was 20.

I was dating a friend of his called Tony, I felt bad about it but couldn’t help myself! Tony was into bikes and took me to watch Ron racing at Oulton Park and we started dating not long after that. We had to keep things a secret though as Ron was engaged and I was seeing his friend. It was an exciting time, and we were both happy with it. At the time Ron was only really racing at national level, with the odd race abroad. For sure there must have been other women in Rons life, he was a man and a racer, it’s what they do. But back then I was a teenager and could put up with it, and I loved the atmosphere at the racing, especially since I was with the star.

We kept the relationship a secret until I was 23, when I fell pregnant with Leon. Ron had just broken into the GPs, I knew how much his racing career meant to him and I wanted more out of our relationship than I thought he could give. I decided that I would have Leon on my own and leave Ron to his career. So I  left him, moved out of the little town we lived in and moved in with some friends in London. If I hadn’t moved I wouldn’t have been able to help myself and would have seen Ron. I couldn’t stay away from him, if he shouted jump I would ask how high.

When I had Leon it made me and Ron realise what we wanted and we got back together straight away. We all lived in my bedroom in my mum’s house. Leon was born in May 1983 and by the September of that year we moved into the farm that we still live in now. Back then it was in a right state and we worked on the house in between Ron’s races. Leon started coming to the racing within weeks of being born, it was just what we did. As Leon was growing up I didn’t want him to have anything to do with racing, he was a very good footballer and could have played at whatever level he wanted to. When he won the CB Cup race at the British round of the GP in 1997 I knew I had lost him to bike racing. Sure my heart dropped but I know it makes him happy.

I liked the fact that Ron was the quickest guy on track, but the thought of Leon being out there, my own son, was horrible. We have seen the dark side to racing when Ron lost his brother, and I don’t want that happening to my baby. I always try and get to the tracks when he’s racing, I hate watching it from home. I have seen Ron’s bones poking out of his body at the side of tracks and known in just one look from him that he’s okay, when you watch the racing on telly you don’t get that. 

Lots of people assume that I have given up everything in my life for racing, but I don’t see it like that at all. I made racing my life, enjoyed the success with Ron and now with Leon and share in the ups and downs. I also learnt a trade, I know the racing industry very well becasue I’ve spent my life around it. I used that experience to help Leon get along, we knew he had a huge amount of natural talent and once we realised that racing was what he wanted to do we did our best to help him get the best start. No one else would have helped him.

Bikes and racing are what the Haslam family do, whether its running the race schools or sorting out deals, we are at our best around bikes. What makes me happiest is having my family around me and seeing them content. My daughter lives next door to the farm and we are seeking permision to build a house for Leon on our land. I love having my children close to me. People think that we are an odd couple because we don’t socialise that much, but thats just the way we do things. I’m 43 now and have been with Ron since I was 15. The thing that has kept us together is respect, lots of people fall in and out of love with each other but if you respect each other you have something special. One of the things I like the most about Ron is how grounded he stayed at the peak of his career, that he’s the same man that walked into the ironmogers 28 years ago.