Whyte steps down from NW200

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North West 200 race chief Mervyn Whyte MBE has announced he is relinquishing his position as Clerk of Course – but has offered to take on a more strategic role to ensure the North West continues to develop and improve for future fans and competitors.

Whyte said: “In recent years the workload has grown significantly and the Clerk of Course role is now a full-time, all year round position demanding up to 70 hours work per week especially in the months preceding race week.”

The North West 200 generates up to £9million for the Northern Ireland economy and any other event of a similar size would almost certainly utilise a full team of professional staff.

Whyte added: “I believe the position and responsibility has now become too much for one person and the North West 200 requires a more shared approach.”
Whyte has proposed the recruitment of a new full-time Events Manager who would assist him in all planning and operational activities as well as normal Clerk of Course duties.

He would then take on the role of Event Director ensuring the event is effectively managed and also look after the strategic development of the NW200.
He said

“We are currently consulting with local and central government funding bodies and I would urge that the decision process is completed as soon as possible to enable the new team to pick up the baton and forge ahead with the ongoing work and plans for the 2010 North West 200.

“The North West 200 has been a major part of my life since I joined the Coleraine Club in the 1970’s and naturally I want to be on hand to work alongside a new events manager and Clerk of Course. Myself and the Coleraine Club (organising club of the NW200) are keen to resolve the situation as soon as possible. However without additional support I will sadly have no alternative but to cease my links with the event.”

Since 2001 Whyte’s Clerk of Course duties have not only included race activities, but have extended to all aspects of business and event management. These include managing the 800 plus volunteers, preparation of the nine-mile course, creating an event safety plan, liaising with government and funding partners, sourcing sponsors and event marketing as well as the detailed administrative management required to organise an international road race which each year attracts upwards of 240 competitors and over 130,000 spectators.  

John Wilson, Chairman of Coleraine & District Motor Club Ltd said, “Mervyn has done a wonderful job as Clerk of Course. He works tirelessly all year round behind the scenes and has been a major influence in turning the North West 200 into one of the world’s best road racing meetings and increasing its global profile.

“However, as the North West 200 has grown – both in terms of spectators attending and riders participating – the current Clerk of Course workload is simply too much for one man and moving forward, a more structured approach is essential.”

The NW200 has received many awards in the past few years including Event of the Year at the NITB Awards in 2008, the Freedom of Coleraine in 2003, a CIPR Gold Award for public relations in 2004, a NI Travel & Tourism Award in 2005, a Belfast Telegraph Sports Award for Mervyn Whyte in 2006 and in 2007 Mervyn was awarded an MBE for services to motorsport.  

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin