Roads insight: Grave concern for Irish road racing future

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During the past week Northern Ireland’s Ulster Grand Prix, the fastest road race on the planet, has been cancelled for the fifth year in a row.

The Tandragee 100 had already been called off for 2024 and all five of the road races in the Republic of Ireland have followed suit.

These Irish events have spawned some of the sport’s most famous names, attracting huge crowds of enthusiastic road racing fans to the hedgerows as they watched riders including Joey, Robert, William and Michael Dunlop, Phillip McCallen, Brian Reid, Ryan Farquhar and Adrian Archibald.

Down the decades, the continued existence of these races has been threatened by tragedy and terror, by Foot & Mouth and Coronavirus.

Some, like Carrowdore and Temple, have already disappeared from the calendar while those that remain have always managed to claw their way back from financial woes and other setbacks.

But the crisis now facing Irish road racing is of a different magnitude, its effects so toxic that only three – the North West 200, Cookstown 100 and Armoy road races – of the 11 Irish road races that were run during 2019 are scheduled to take place…

Stephen Davison

By Stephen Davison

Biographer of John McGuinness & road racing's foremost writer & photographer