Having been over to Ireland twice this year to watch the road racing I can say in all honesty that it is the best bike racing in the world today.
The riders range from lads who live and work out of the back of a van, probably on a shoestring, to those that have things a little better with motor homes and mobile workshops.
All are keen to spend time and talk to you, in the accessible paddock areas, which make a huge difference to the days racing. You feel as though you are cheering on somebody you actually know.
I have met and spoken to, Michael Dunlop, William Dunlop, Ryan Farquhar, Michael Pearson along with others in the paddock. Michael Pearson even asking me back for a cuppa when it was the first time I have ever met the guy.
This year I went to watch the Cookstown 100 as well as the Killalane races. Both were terrific to watch, as especially when you are stood so close to the racing that you feel the wind off the bikes as they pass.
I did meet Guy Martin, who was not as forthcoming as the Irish riders, spending a lot of time “hiding” in the back of the TAS racing truck, when youngsters were wanting photos and autographs, Cameron Donald was also very friendly and chatty.
I live in the North East of England and will be going over to Ireland again next year along with pals, if you want a good road trip with some excellent racing to watch, then get yourself over on the ferry next year.
I know I might sound as though I work for the Irish tourist board but the truth is, the clubs running the racing spend a lot of time, energy and money on these events and then they do not charge admission for the spectators.
So help them out and buy a program and perhaps even sponsor a bale, it is a great weekend. Each of the pubs I visited I was asked if I was there to watch the racing, conversations were struck up with other drinkers as though I had known them for years and one pub even put last years Northwest on the TV.
Do yourselves a favour next year and get over to Ireland for some close up racing and friendly people to meet, you will never look at short circuit racing the same again.