100th Anniversary of the Road Races Act celebrated in style!

Last Sunday in Mount Stewart House and Gardens the Ulster Automobile Club displayed 10 cars and 10 Motor Bikes representing each of the decades to celebrate this historic anniversary.

This is a significant milestone in the history of Road Races because this Act facilitated the closing of public roads for the purposes of racing. Currently some of the most famous uses of this legislation include the North West 200, Tandragee 100 and Armoy Road Races for motorcycles. Special thanks to Will Corry Senior who arranged all the motorbikes and to Ray McCullough’ the Dromara destroyer for his appearance on the day.

On the four wheeled front, the Circuit of Ireland International Rally, Craigantlet Hill Climb and Knockagh Hill Climb, all organised and promoted by the Ulster Automobile Club (UAC) run safely and successfully on closed public roads. It was therefore important that the UAC had a hand in organising this event in conjunction with the National Trust.

Sincere thanks to Paul Robinson who arranged the cars and other members of the UAC who helped with the organisation. Mount Stewart, the ancestral home of the Marquis of Londonderry who was instrumental in steering the Act passed by the newly formed Northern Ireland Parliament in 1922, provided an ideal backdrop for the occasion.

The good weather saw visitors to the House and Gardens admiring the displays of bikes and cars and enjoying a walk in the world famous scenically beautiful grounds. One of the highlights of the day was a pedal car race in front of the House in the afternoon. A number of practices were held for each of the two classes of vehicles.

Three racers competed in each heat and the final, a very exhausting experience for many of the very young drivers who were between 3 and 6 years old! Everyone who took part was a winner. The competition between the racers was fierce and it appeared even more so between their parents!!

We were delighted that Lady Rose Lauritzen, granddaughter of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Londonderry, presented awards to each of the ‘future racing champions’! Initial feedback including comments like: ‘a great event, thoroughly enjoyed the day, especially the pedal car race, thank you very much.’

The UAC would like to take this opportunity to thank Lady Rose and the National Trust for their help and support, parents who allowed their children to compete, their friends and families and all the other folks without whom this fantastic experience would not have been remembered.

Photo Credits: Bill Swann, i2i photography

Motor Bikes

1920’s Norton CS1, the very successful TT overhead cam racer

1930’s VELOCETTE KTT MK 1V. KTT bikes ridden by Ireland’s Stanley Woods and won first World Championship

1940’s NORTON INTERNATIONAL ridden by many famous riders including Artie Bell ( Belfast)

1950’s The world famous MANX NORTON, frame designed in Belfast by Rex McCandless, riders Geoff Duke, Ralph Bryans, Dick Creith

1960’s HONDA RC115 Belfast’s Ralph Bryans won the 50cc World Championship on the factory team bike.

1970’s QUB500 Developed in Queens University by Dr Gordon Blair, Ridden by Dromara Destroyer legend Ray McCullough

1980’s YAMAHA 350 Formula 2 , Banbridge’s Brian Reid’s World Championship Winning bike

1990’s HONDA RS 125, as ridden by Joey Dunlop ( F1 World Champion ), Robert, William and Michael Dunlop

2000’s DUCATI1098R, Kennedy NW200 Ducati Team, winner 2008 NW200 (Michael Rutter)

2010’s Kawasaki ZX10R ridden to many international wins by local rider Ryan Farquhar

Motor Cars

1920's: Vauxhall 30–98, manufactured by Vauxhall at Luton, Bedfordshire from 1913 to 1927 The first 30–98 , driven by Joseph Higginson, won the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb on 7 June 1913 in and set a hill record in the process. Vauxhalls were extremely successful in local motor sport events in the 1920s and later 1930's: Talbot 105, a high powered sports car developed by Talbot, England from 1931 to 1935. It was famously fast, described by one authority as the fastest four-seater ever to race at Brooklands. Talbots regularly competed in the Tourist Trophy Races at Ards in the 

1930s. The car on display has been used for many motor sport events including the Circuit of Ireland Retro Rally. 

1940's: MG TC Midget, the first postwar MG and was launched in 1945. Very popular and successful in local motor sport events , Jack McMichael won the Circuit of Ireland rally in 1947 in one. The car on display is still regularly used for competition including Craigantlet Hillclimb. 

1950's: The Triumph TR3, was produced by the Standard-Triumph Motor Company of Coventry, England from 1955 to 1962. The TR series of cars were enormously successful in both road racing (including Dundrod in 1954 and 1955) and rallying. Former UAC President Robin McKinney won the Circuit of Ireland Rally twice in a TR (1955 & 1956) while Paddy Hopkirk won it in 1958 in a TR3A (the same model as on display). 

1960's: Mini Cooper, made by the British Motor Corporation from 1961–1971 and one of the most famous rally cars of all time. Paddy Hopkirk won the Circuit of Ireland Rally three times in a Mini Cooper (1962,65 & 67) as well as the Monte Carlo rally in 1964. The car on display is still used for competitions. 

1970's: BMW2002 Tii, Produced by BMW , Germany between 1967 and 1975, the 2002 series competed in over 600 motorsport events. The car on display has taken part in the Circuit of Ireland Retro as well as local sprints and hill climbs. 

1980's: Vauxhall Cavalier SRi, First of the fuel injected models and based on the same platform as the Opel Manta. The Cavalier was used by Vauxhall in the British Touring Car Championship, winning the Manufacturer’s Championship in 1992. 

1990’s: Mazda MX5, Produced by Mazda, Japan and the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history. With so many made, second hand ones are reasonably priced so can be a very affordable competition car. Extremely popular and used for many different types of motor sport events, just like this example. 

2000's: Triumph Spitfire* Manufactured by Triumph in Coventry between 1962 and 1980 new Spitfires could still be found dealers showrooms up until 1982. Although over the course of their production the Triumph outsold its MG Midget rival (particularly in the USA), the MG was, and still is, a far more popular competition car. Factory entered Spitfires won the Tour de France in 1964 and their class at Le Mans in 1965. Locally Spitfire owners have competed in a range of different events including autotests, hill climbs and navigation rallies. *Replacement for Citroen DS3 which crashed on the Maiden City Rally the day before 

2010's: Toyota Yaris GRMN Ltd. edition, the first GRMN performance Toyota to be built and sold in Europe. Inspired by Toyota’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship, GRMN is short for Gazoo Racing Master of Nurburgring. The car on display is number 235 of only 400 built for Europe
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