Tributes paid to racing team lead mechanic who died after lorry crash

Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children ' Start of Life
Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children ' Start of Life

Tributes have been paid to a ‘lovely guy’ and ‘family man’ who was the lead mechanic for a successful international motor racing team.

Damien Lewis, 39, of Lynwick Street, Rudgwick, died after he was struck by a lorry in Adenau, Germany on Tuesday September 1.

At an inquest into his death held in Horsham on Friday December 4, his family said Mr Lewis ‘lived his life to the full’ and travelled the world in his job.

But they also described him as a ‘family man that looked after his nieces and nephews’.

Mr Lewis was the number one mechanic for Rebellion Racing, the defending champions in the prestigious World Endurance Championship, and had been in Germany since the last week of August for the race meeting at the world-famous Nurburgring circuit.

Along with other members of the team, Mr Lewis stayed in Germany after the event to prepare the cars for the next race in the USA, the inquest was told.

On August 31, the group decided to attend a local beer festival.

The coroner’s officer said: “It was decided by the group they would go back to the hotel, but Mr Lewis decided to stay at the festival.”

When his colleagues met for breakfast and realised Mr Lewis was not there, they called his mobile phone, which was answered by the police.

The inquest heard that Mr Lewis died after he was struck by a lorry in the early hours of the morning.

A post mortem revealed the cause of death to be massive trauma to his scalp, head and chest.

West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield said: “The conclusion I will record is he died an accidental death.”

The racing community came together to pay tribute to Mr Lewis in the days after his death.

On Rebellion Racing’s website, Bart Hayden, manager of the team, said: “The team are all supporting each other as we remember Damo and reflect upon his sad loss.

“The garage is not the same without him, but we will be giving our best to try to get a result (in the next race) that he would be proud of.”

Gérard Neveu, chief executive of the World Endurance Championship, said: “Damien Lewis was a familiar face in the paddock and a valued member of the Rebellion Racing team.

“Our thoughts and condolences go to Damien’s partner, his family, everyone at Rebellion Racing and his friends all around the world. Everyone at the WEC will miss him.”

In his memory, ‘Damo’ stickers were placed on Rebellion Racing’s cars and on the helmets of the drivers and crew for the American race, and a minute of applause was held prior to the event.

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