Tough news out of Northern Ireland this week, if you’re a street circuit racing fan. The Ulster GP is currently canceled for 2024, and it leaves us asking: What’s next?
The Ulster GP isn’t the Isle of Man TT—it doesn’t have the same level of historical hype. But nevertheless, this race has been around for more than a century (founded in 1922) and served as a stop on the FIM’s Grand Prix circuit for decades. It was also a stop on the Formula TT circuit. Those glory days are gone, but it’s still one of the most significant stops on the British Isles’ street circuit racing scene.
And now it’s canceled, again. The news came out this week, as the organizers at Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club said they were unable to make a go of it in 2024 due to issues with insurance. This has become a recurring theme in the street racing scene in recent years, along with general money woes. Of course, these problems are closely related.
The Tandragee 100 is also canceled in 2024, as the surface there is being repaved. However, for now, the Cookstown 100, North West 200 and Armoy Race of Legends are all on the schedule in Northern Ireland for 2024—at this point, anyway. In the Republic of Ireland, all street circuit racing is canceled again in 2024, as it was only emergency government funding that kept the races in Northern Ireland going, and their neighbours next-door did not get the same money, as they’re governed by a different motorsport authority.
Tough times indeed, and over in England, races like Cock o’ the North are also in similar financial jeopardy, although the 2023 event ran at least, and it seems the 2024 race is also on. COVID-19 closures made it very difficult for these events, and the financial mayhem in the months afterward has made recovery difficult. Their long-term survival chances look worse and worse every year, unless organizers figure out how to bring more money in. At least the IOMTT seems to be getting a resurgence in visitors post-COVID, but with budgets tightening world-wide, you’ve got to wonder if that trend can continue.