Aged just 10, it seemed that Hayden Ballard’s motor racing career could already be over, writes Liam Apicella.
While the crash at Swaffham Raceway left the youngster with just minor whiplash, Ballard was too traumatised by the 2013 experience to get back behind the wheel.
However, now 14, the Mildenhall College Academy pupil has been able to put aside those fears, with his recent return to action seeing him clinch the East Anglian Junior Rod Championship, also at Swaffham.
Speaking about his time away, Ballard said: “The crash happened in my first wet meeting.
“I was always told that if the car goes sideways, to go flat out until it starts to straighten back up.
“But I hit a dry patch and ended up crashing into the wall.
“There were no serious injuries, but I was too frightened to go back out after that.”
However, with motor racing — inspired by father Marcus — being Ballard’s major passion, he soon found himself missing the thrill of competitive action.
The Beck Row-based racer had a handful of practice outings last year, before returning to the race track for the recent East Anglian Championships.
Ballard entered the event simply as a way of slowly bedding himself back in, which made his victory in the Citreon Saxo VTR all the all more surprising.
“I did not expect to go there and win like I did,” he added.
“It shocked me because there was a much faster car on the inside of me after I qualified outside front.
“But I have learned from the mistakes I made when I was younger.
“I feel more experienced now and that has helped to boost my confidence.”
Ballard’s next major outing is likely to be at August’s Golden Roof competition in Swaffham.
And his win at the same track last month has only served to whet the appetite for further success in 2017.