I had heard about the Isle of Man TT, read in forums some trip reports of bikers who went there (from the continent it’s like a dream trip to do at least once in a lifetime) and knew a group of forum members who had gone there together a few years before.
But I really discovered road races, and mainly that there were more than the IOM TT thanks to a book I offered to my husband some years ago, called “Between the Hedges” of Stephen Davison, I guess the most famous road racing photograph.
In this book we learnt more about Joey Dunlop, and while preparing our honeymoon trip to Ireland back in 2013, it helped us to decide where to go (that would coincide with our holiday dates) to see our first road race. We ended up in Armoy.
While looking for a road race for that trip, I found out that there were more races apart from the TT, and the 2 International “Northwest 200” and “Ulster GP” in Northern Ireland.
From April to September there are road races organised on the whole island (North & South). Most of them belong to 2 championships which are ran together in several races: the “Irish Road Racing Championship” and “Ulster Road Racing Championship”. Even though in road racing it is more important to win this or that more prestigious race than the final title at the end of the season. Most riders don’t race in all the races, they chose the ones they are more interested in (or their sponsors for the “big ones”), for their prestige, or they like more as circuits (the most renown pilots help a lot the clubs when they take part in small races because more people go).
From one year to another, some races disappear from the calendar (mainly for financial issues) and are organised again one or 2 years after when they are financially ok (it’s all about the organising club financial means).
The most prestigious road races that a Road Racer has to win are of course the Isle of Man TT, and the 2 “International” Ulster GP and Northwest 200”. Those 3 almost always get the best riders.
In summer 2014, our holidays’ dates coincided with the “Ulster GP” and it was to be our destination. But we couldn’t organise it with time and as when we get close to the date the prices are just getting crazy (mainly the ferry), we had to find a B plan. During that year I discovered through a Facebook page that there was also road racing on the continent. Those road races belong to a championship: the IRRC “International Road Racing Championship”. It’s mainly organised by Dutch, Belgian and German people and has 6 circuits to date: 2 in The Netherlands, 2 in Belgium, 1 in Germany and 1 in Czech Republic. In each circuit there are 2 Supersport and 2 Superbike rounds (apart from other categories that vary from one circuit to the other according to the club organising it, but they do not count for the championship). The results count for the championship and title is important. The circuits of this championship (except the Czech one) are more “clear” (of obstacles) than the Irish ones (which are mostly countryside roads, some quite narrow), with more fields than hedges on the sides, and less “urban” area.
Some riders use the IRRC to get “prepared” to their objective: racing on the Isle of Man.
Apart from those races, there are some others:
-1 road circuit in England: in Scarborough, Yorkshire. The club organises 4 races during the year, the bigger being the “Gold Cup”. The club also organises other bike events such as hillclimbs and so.
And when the season is over in Europe, you can still go to:
-Macau GP in China: urban circuit. Many European racers go to race there.
-There is a Road Racing championship in New Zealand. The most famous race runs on Boxing Day each year, on “Cemetery Circuit” in Wanganui. Guy Martin went to race there those last two years.
I also looked for information on races in Estonia, as unfortunately Joey Dunlop passed away while racing there in 2000. It seems that there is also a championship between Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Here is a list (can be completed) of some books and DVDs on road racing:
-Between the Hedges – Stephen Davison
-The Road Racers – Stephen Davison
-Joey Dunlop King of the Roads – Stephen Davison
-Joey Dunlop His authorized biography – Mc Diarmid
-Guy Martin “My Autobiography”, “When you Dead, You Dead”, “Worms to Catch”
-That Near-Death Thing – Rick Boradbent
-Full Throttle: Liam Becket: sobre Robert Dunlop
-TT Talking: Charlie Lambert
-Hutchy Miracle Man: Ian Hutchinson
-Road Racer, it’s in my blood: Michael Dunlop
-Built for Speed: John Mc Guinness
-The Racer’s Edge: Dave Molyneux
-The Road Racers + V Four Victory
-Closer to the Edge
-Road (on Dunlop family)
-Road Riders: series filmed in 2017 about road racers in Ireland.
You can also find the annual reviews for many road races, including the TT: http://www.dukevideo.com/
The bike class you can find for a road race (vary depending on the events):
Moto3 (125 GP)
Superbike (1000 prepared)
Superstock (1000 stock bikes)
Junior & Senior “Support” & “Open” ” (different cc)
Classics 250, 350, 500 up to 1000cc
The smaller road racing events usually take place during 2 days, 1 for practice and 1 for the races. Usually on Friday and Saturday for Northern Ireland and Saturday & Sunday for Republic of Ireland (except Skerries I think). You can then have one or 2 full days watching races (10 or more) with entry fee usually low (remember to buy the program and some merchandising, as the clubs can only organise the races if they have sufficient means to cover the costs, mainly the insurance, and many don’t receive external help). The 3 big events take place over one week (2 weeks for the TT).
Small circuits usually don’t have sidecars races.
TT pilots statistics:
Printed specialised magazines:
-Road Racing Ireland: http://roadracingireland.com/dir/
-Emerald Road Racing: https://www.facebook.com/EmeraldRoadRacing/
Specialised websites and facebook groups:
http://roadracingnews.co.uk/: most complete website with news on road racing worldwhile
Irish Race photograpy: Facebook page with loads of photographs, team and racers information, etc.
Real Road Racing – Fan group
Irish National Road Races Live – follows in live the National races, publishing videos and results.
List of circuits there:
If you find some wrong or incomplete information, please let me know. I will be happy to correct and give good information to people who don’t know about it. Thanks!