NATALIE Mathison cheered loudly beside her excited little girl as her husband whizzed past them on his neon green superbike for a second time.
With just two laps left in the 2019 Isle of Man TT, it wouldn’t be long until she was reunited with her daredevil love, Daley. But tragically, she’d never see him alive again.
Dad-of-one Daley, 27, was killed in a 130mph horror crash during lap three of the RST Superbike race at Snugborough, where he had been making his 19th TT start.
Now, the road racer’s grieving family have revealed how his wife and three-year-old daughter Daisy were watching the deadly event at the time of last Monday’s tragedy.
They exclusively tell Sun Online that former grid girl Natalie had expected Daley to bounce back from any injuries after hearing of the crash, just over two miles into the course.
But after walking over to see officials, telling toddler Daisy, “Come on, daddy’s had an oopsie-daisy,” Natalie devastatingly learned that her husband was dead.
“It’s been overwhelming, we still can’t believe it,” Daley’s sister, Renae Jackson, tells us.
“At the moment, Natalie’s going through talking and not being able to talk. She says, ‘I was petrified every time I went [to watch Daley] but I believed in him.”
‘I won’t expect a long life’
Renae, 33, adds that her brother had always acknowledged the worst could happen to him during races, but that becoming the “ultimate rider” was his dream.
“He openly said to Natalie, ‘I won’t expect a long life’,” she says. “But it was totally what he wanted to do. It was just in him – and she believed in him just as much.”
Daley, who started racing at 12, had first fallen for blonde beauty Natalie in 2013 after she caught his eye as a grid girl. He “chased” her to try to win her over – and it paid off.
The pair, from Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, began dating in September 2013, tied the knot in 2015 and had Daisy in May the following year.
“Daisy’s birth just made his world, it just completed him,” says Renae.
“His wife and daughter were his absolute everything. He was very much a hands-on dad.”
Cheered on by his newborn daughter
When Daisy was just eight days old, Natalie, then recovering from a C-section, took the newborn on a ferry to the Isle of Man to watch Daley compete in the TT.
The mum now admits she “must have been mad”, but she was desperate to support her husband. And in following years, she and Daisy would be out at the track in all weathers.
Although Natalie would ask herself the same question before every race – “Is he going to come back?” – she didn’t once ask her husband to give up the sport he loved.
“[Daley] loved anything active, but the main thing was motorbike racing,” sister Renae tells Sun Online. “He loved the thrill of it. He was always training… there was never a discussion about giving up. He always believed that he was going to be successful.”
‘Racing is a way of life – it’s in their blood’
Thrill-seeking Daley would tell his loved ones: “When you get the racing bug, you’ll never look back.” And Renae adds: “It’s a way of life. It’s just in their blood.”
However, Daley didn’t let his dreams get in the way of being a great dad – helping with the household chores and often taking Daisy to feed the ducks or on day trips.
As he prepared for last week’s race, the father was on top of the world. He believed 2019 was going to be his year: the one where the world would “sit up and notice him”.
But unfortunately, his name made headlines for a different, tragic reason.
With his wife and toddler cheering him on, Daley, who worked on building sites when he wasn’t racing, crashed at a tight left-hand bend on the approach to Union Mills,
He is believed to have been going between 120mph and 130mph at the time.
256th death on the course
The race on the 37.73-mile Mountain Course was immediately red-flagged and an air ambulance was dispatched, but the Penz13.com BMW rider was sadly pronounced dead.
He is among 256 people to have lost their life on the course since 1911 – although TT veteran John McGuinness recently insisted that the road race is as safe as possible.
Race organisers, the ACU, said Daley was an experienced competitor and passed on their “deepest sympathy” to Natalie and other loved ones in a lengthy statement.
For Natalie, the first sign that something was wrong was a phone call from Daley’s dad, who was also at the circuit and had been contacted about his son’s accident.
“News got back quite quickly,” Renae explains.
“[Daley’s father] called her to come to the office. She walked up with Daisy in a pushchair.”
Natalie’s horror as officials broke the news
Believing her husband of four years had simply been injured – as he had been before – Natalie couldn’t have imagined that her worst fears were about to come true.
But walking into the office, she was told that Daley was dead. It was a horrifying moment – made even worse by the fact no-one could tell her exactly what had happened.
“All she knows is he’s had an accident and he didn’t make it,” says Renae.
“We’ve got to wait for an investigation.”
She adds that while Daley’s death has sparked fresh calls for TT to be scrapped, she believes racers like him will always have the urge to take risks and battle to be the best.
FULL STATEMENT FROM RACE ORGANISERS ACU
“ACU Events Ltd regrets to confirm that Daley Mathison, 27, from Stockton on Tees, Durham was killed in an incident during the Superbike race today at the Isle of Man TT Races.
“The accident occurred at Snugborough, just over two miles into the course, on the third lap of the race.
“Daley was an experienced competitor and was seeded 19th for today’s race.
“He made his Mountain Course debut in the 2013 Manx Grand Prix Newcomers A Race, finishing fifth.
“His TT career included three consecutive podiums in the TT Zero electric bike Race in 2016, 2017 and 2018 including the runner up position in the race last year, representing Nottingham University.
“He also achieved an 11th place finish in last year’s Superstock Race and a pair of 13th place finishes in the 2017 and 2018 Senior TT Races.
“He set his fastest lap of the Mountain Course – 128.054mph – in the 2018 Superstock race which made him the 34th fastest rider of all time. He set the second fastest TT Zero lap ever with lap of 119.294mph in the 2018 race.
“In total he started 19 TT Races with 14 finishes and 3 podiums and won 6 silver and 8 bronze replicas
“ACU Events Ltd wishes to pass on their deepest sympathy to Daley’s wife Natalie, his family and friends.”
“People enter TT because it’s the best of the best,” she says.
“If you make it there you’re one of the best in the world. While I wish more than anything that this had not happened I don’t think you could take it away.”
Tragically, Natalie was forced to travel back to England without her husband’s body, which remains nearly 200 miles – and a ferry ride away – from her home, following his death.
House move plans shattered by tragedy
The distraught mum and Daisy are now being comforted by loved ones back in England, according to Renae, with plans to travel back to the island to see Daley this week.
It is not yet known when he will be laid to rest.
In another devastating twist, Natalie and Daley were due to move house last week – exciting plans that Natalie has put on hold following the tragedy.
Now, the couple’s loved ones have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the mum and daughter Daisy as they “try to come to terms with their loss”.
“They put their life savings into [Daley’s racing],” says Renae, who lives in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. “In the last year, probably around £30,000.”
Natalie’s heartbreaking explanation to Daisy
She adds: “Daley gave his all to his dream and absolutely loved what he did, despite the risks and the massive financial burden this, at times, had on them as a family.”
While dealing with her own grief, Natalie had to break the news to her little girl that her father had passed away. And she did so in a heartbreakingly beautiful way.
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Because Daley would often fall asleep in their house – something that had become a “standard joke” – she told Daisy that daddy was “going to be having a long sleep now”.
In response, little Daisy asked: “With the fairies?” Natalie replied: “That’s right.”
But unlike his other sleeps, Daley won’t wake from this one. While he was his family’s pride and joy on the racing track, they say he’ll now forever be “our own sleeping beauty”.
- To donate to Daley’s family, visit the dedicated GoFundMe page here