This week sees one of the most exciting events on the motorcycle racing calendar and Ireland’s biggest outdoor sporting event- the North West 200.
Held annually against the spectacular backdrop of Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast, the festival attracts the finest road racers in the business, including the likes of Guy Martin, Michael Dunlop and John McGuiness.
Northern Ireland is famous for its closed road racing and every year, thousands of petrol-heads are drawn to the 8.9 mile street circuit known as “the Triangle”, which links the towns of Portstewart, Portrush and Coleraine. It is one of the fastest public road races in the world, with speeds regularly exceeding 200 mph.
The event was originally intended to be held the North West of Ireland, but never actually took place there. The stage was changed to the North-Antrim coast, but the name stuck. the “200” refers to the 200 mile distance over which the race was originally run.
North West 200 through the years
1929 – on a clear spring day, the first North West 200 road race took place, breaking away from tradition, as it was generally considered that racing over 100 miles would be more popular.
1939 – last NW200 before the outbreak of Word War II.
1947 – post-war, racing returns to the North Antrim coast, despite fuel and rubber shortages brought on by the war.
1957 – the first 100 mph lap of the course is recorded by Jack Brett on a Norton 500cc.
1964 – First win at the festival for a Japanese manufacturer, with Ralph Bryans winning two races for Honda.
1972 – the event wasn’t held, due to civil unrest during what were Northern Ireland’s darkest days of the Troubles.
1979 – Joey Dunlop wins his first races on the NW200 circuit.
1987 – Joey Dunlop achieves a hat trick in the most victorious point of his NW200 career. The home-grown boy from Ballymoney was one of the festival’s most prolific champions until his tragic death in 2000 while racing in Estonia.
1992 – Philip McCallen storms to glory around the Triangle, taking the 400cc, 600cc, 250cc and both Superbike races.
2001 – festival cancelled to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease sweeping large areas of the UK.
2006 – Steve Plater sets the current course lap record of 24.11 mph.
2008 – motorcycle racing legend, Robert Dunlop (brother to Joey) tragically loses his life after crashing during a practice lap.
2009 – the North West 200 celebrates its 80th year.
We are certainly going to have a close eye on the action at the North West 200 this weekend. For all your motorcycle tyre, repair and servicing needs, contact us here at T S Garage Services.