Motorcycle racing fans got some bad news last week, as organizers say Irish track competition is canceled, and even worse, the island’s famous street circuit events are canceled.
Although the Isle of Man TT is the world’s famous motorcycle race on public roads, the Irish events such as the North West 200, Cookstown 100 and Ulster Grand Prix are considered the heart and soul of the UK’s street circuit scene. The same riders attend those races, and many of the IOMTT stars learned their trade in the Irish races first. Other IOMTT racers found success in big wins at the Irish races when their luck was never good enough to win that Isle of Man (Guy Martin comes to mind here). And as the cost of attending the IOMTT ballooned, other race fans began to see the Irish races as an affordable alternative. As you can see below, it’s the same wide-open-on-Front-Street formula:
Alas, it seems this may the end of the line for these races, due to insurance woes—specifically, the cost of insurance. Motorcycling Ireland saw its previous insurer walk away last fall, and the organization has been unable to find an affordable replacement since—other companies were willing to underwrite the race, but for now, Motorcycling Ireland says it and its subsidiary clubs and organizations cannot afford the massive increase in rates. This left them with no other option but to cancel, they said last week.
There’s been a significant outcry from race fans in the days since, not to mention the others affected—these events bring huge money into the local economies, and while some locals dislike the disruption to their day-to-day lives, others welcome the tourism dollars. So, it’s good to see that in the days since, the people behind individual races seem to be working hard on coming up with a new plan. Organizers at the North West 200, perhaps the most prestigious of these events, said “We have been overwhelmed by the messages and offers of support we have received … the Coleraine and District Motor club will continue in its efforts to stage the North West 200 on May 7-13.”