Thanks for the memories: Honda Ron Haslam Race School calls time after 24 years of expert tuition

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After 24 years and an estimated 87,000 customers, the chequered flag has fallen on the Honda Ron Haslam Race School.

Having announced that 2020 would be their final year of operation back on Wednesday, July 15, bikes rolled out of pitlane for the final time at the Donington Park set-up on Monday, October 26 - marking the end of an era that’s seen everyone from biking novices, to A-list celebrities queue up for expert track-based tuition from Ron and his instructing team.

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"Everybody did a brilliant job on that final day," said Ann Haslam. "It’s more than a job and it’s been a way of life. So many good people turned up and booked on the last day of courses to wish us well and it was lovely."

The recipient of 2020 MCN Dave Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award, Rocket Ron set-up the school back in 1997 and has helped riders learn new skills on everything from learner-friendly 125s on their novice courses, to arm-stretching CBR1000RR Fireblade superbikes on their Elite programme.

Ron and Ann Haslam with cake

In the early days of the school, these riders included six-time British Superbike champion Shane Byrne and MotoGP race-winner Cal Crutchlow, as well as Ron and Ann’s own son Leon – himself a former BSB champ and current factory Honda World Superbike rider.

Speaking to MCN when receiving his award, Ron spoke of the school and said: "To get letters of thanks or to see someone improving because of your work is brilliant. It’s definitely kept me young and I hope to carry on doing something along the same lines."

One of the riders attending the day’s course was MCN reader, Ivor McCullagh, 51, from Banbury, who had been booked onto the Premier Experience to ride a Honda CBR650R by his friend, Ben Sheard, as a 50th birthday present.

With the pair attending the school together, Ivor told MCN: "It was an amazing day. The track was wet to start with, so both of us were a little bit nervous, but after the first lap you realise how much grip the bikes still have - it was such a big confidence boost.

Dan Sutherland at Haslam Race School

"The instructors put us at ease straight away and we realised it wasn’t going to be as scary as we thought. We never felt out of our depth at all."

With the light fading, the final day was rounded out with a parade lap of the track by Ron and Leon, before they arrived back in the pits to a round of applause.

Ron and Ann were then surprised by their instructing team, who had laid on a cake, photos and all signed one of the school’s red jerseys. On top of that, Honda also presented Ron with his own CBR650R and Ann with a hamper of goodies as a mark of thanks for their services.

"It’s the end of an unbelievable era – and eras have to end," Ann continued. "It’s such a shame because it’s needed and it’s wanted - not just for Honda or the Haslams - but for the whole industry."

MCN Chief Road Tester, Michael Neeves has instructed at the school for eight years and also attended the final day at Donington Park.

"My final lap last Monday was emotional. It was the last time I’d ride around Donington on a Fireblade, wearing my red instructor’s bib, with a customer in tow," he said.

"I’ve seen how the school operates from behind the scenes during the eight years I’ve been with them. It’s more than just a riding school, it’s always been about giving back to our sport for Ann and Ron.

"Thousands of young and new riders have been introduced to biking and many racers have been nurtured, not to mention the all those who’ve got their track fix from some the best instructors in the land, on one of the finest tracks on the planet. There’s nothing else like it in the world. It’s great British biking institution that’ll be sorely missed by everyone."


Support pours in for Haslam Race School as it faces 2021 closure

First published on 22 July, 2020 by Richard Newland

Ron Haslam in the paddock

When MCN broke the news last Wednesday that the Honda Ron Haslam Race School is to close after 24 years of inspirational teaching, it unleashed a tidal wave of support for the legendary centre.

The school received over half a million comments and interactions across their own social media channels in just one day after the announcement. But while there is no question that the school will cease to operate in its current guise at the end of 2020, Ann Haslam has confirmed to MCN that she, Ron and the entire team are determined to continue.

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"We would like to thank everyone who has sent us their best wishes and support. We are trying very hard to secure our future doing what we love in this industry so watch this space!" says Ann Haslam. "Ron is definitely not hanging his leathers up yet!"

"I’d like to carry on teaching in some way but for now I’ve got to keep my options open," confirmed Ron.

With over 86,000 riders completing the school over the last 24 years, it’s hoped it can continue into 2021 and beyond – giving pre-licence age riders the chance to sample two wheels in a safe and encouraging environment, as well as helping experienced bikers and racers to take their skills to the next level.

"I really have to thank MSV as well, they have been absoloutely fantastic and so helpful," says Ann Haslam. "They’ve enabled us to schedule ten days and three evenings during the rest of 2020 so that we can deliver the school dates we’d planned for."

Now confirmed, the remaining school dates are booking up fast, with the August 5 school now sold out, while there is limited availability on the other 2020 dates, details of which can be seen on the school website. Head to haslamraceschool.com, or call 01332 883323, for more info, the latest availability and to book your place.

Ron Haslam pops a wheelie with a pillion

The stars come out for Ron Haslam

James Whitham: "Ron is without question a legend. His enthusiasm for bikes and bike people is endless. Ann has played a big part in it, too. Lovely people. End of an era!"

Alex Lowes: "Some awesome memories from the race school. I’ll be forever grateful for the lessons from Ron, Ann and Leon. Taught so much to so many."

Cal Crutchlow: "Ron and Ann have done the most amazing things with the race school. It’s where I learnt to ride, playing around on bikes with Rocket and Leon. Wish them both all the best for the future and thank you for what you achieved with the school."

Shane Byrne: "I used the Ron Haslam Race School to learn Donington Park back in 1997 and have recommended them to anyone wanting to learn to ride properly or learn a circuit ever since, a great team and very sad news!"

Cornering on a Honda CBR600RR at Donington Park


Honda Ron Haslam Race School to close after more than two decades

First published on July 15, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Ron Haslam wheelies with a pillion at the race school

The Honda Ron Haslam Race School is to close after 24 years, while the Haslam family look for new ways to work in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ron and Ann Haslam have run the school at Donington Park for 24 years (apart from three years at Silverstone) and in that time, more than 86,000 riders have made their way through the training, becoming better and safer riders in the process.

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Ron set up the school after retiring from racing, with the intention of passing on his skills and insights to the next generation. Along the way the school has taught everyone from youngsters on 125s to A-list celebs on Fireblades and has even had a hand in launching the careers of top racing talent.

Keith Flint with Ron Haslam

"I’ve got a lot of fond memories to look back on but the biggest thing for me is the people," said Ron, speaking exclusively to MCN. "Getting the stars in like James Haydon, Jonathan Rea, Cal Crutchlow plus celebs like Michael Fassbender and Keith Flint makes you feel good but it’s the regulars who come back time and again that make me really proud.

"We were also a bit different because we could take youngsters from 12, give them all the gear and get them enjoying bikes early on, before they normally get the opportunity. I’d like to carry on teaching in some way but for now I’ve got to keep my options open."

Neil Fletcher, Head of Motorcycles at Honda UK told MCN: "On behalf of everyone at Honda, I would like to thank Ron and Ann Haslam for their fantastic work with the Race School over the last 24 years. We are sure 86,000 customers equates to 86,000 smiling faces! The dedication and commitment shown by Ron, Ann and everyone who has worked at the Race School has been first class."

An official statement released by the school says: "It is with great sadness, Ron and Ann Haslam announce that this will be our final year for the Honda Ron Haslam Race School. We have been running for 24 years and have had over 86,000 great customers. We’d like to thank Honda for all their support in providing the best range of motorcycles from 125cc to the Fireblade. The training, both on and off track, has been built to suit customers’ individual needs and most importantly, to have fun and become safer and better riders.

"However, given everything that is going on in the world and the current climate, Honda and the Haslams are looking at new ways to work that are suitable for the existing times and we plan to continue to provide training and learning services across this great industry.

"This era has been so greatly rewarding and we have had the best time of our lives with such great people from A list celebrities to racers and world champions, to complete novices learning to ride a bike and with customers wanting to learn skills on track.

"No words can say how grateful and honoured we are for what we have achieved. Each year we have had the best and most amazing bikes to ride on the best circuit in the world, Donington Park. MSV’s support since taking over the circuit has been fantastic, providing us with their newly refurbished facilities and looking after the race school throughout.

"Ron and Ann are working on future plans to continue in some form to provide training and sharing Ron’s expertise and knowledge for everyone and in this great industry/sport.

"We all from the Honda Ron Haslam Race School, Ron, Ann and all staff thank each and every one of you. The support over the years and even during the dark days of the COVID19 outbreak has been immensely appreciated."

The school has 10 dates this year, from August to late October, with places still available on both the £315 Premier Experience and £465 Elite Experience, although they’re booking up fast. Call 01332 883 323 for availability and booking.

Honda CBR125R stoppie with Ron Haslam

A huge loss to biking

MCN’s Chief Road Tester, Michael Neeves was a RHRS Elite Instructor for eight years. "For the Haslams it’s always been about giving back to motorcycling, whether it’s helping new riders to use the clutch, throttle and gears for the first time, or showing racers how to go faster," he said.

"There’s no safer way to learn how to ride on track. Ron’s more than just a figurehead. He’s there all day, giving pillions the ride of their lives, showing customers the line, tyre smoking 'Blades with Leon, or teaching low speed bike control to newbies. There’s nothing like the Haslam School anywhere. It’s an institution and not having them there will be a huge loss to biking."

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Senior Writer (motorcycling), sportsbike nut, currently riding a FireBlade