2018 road racing season has been a tough one. We lost a few lovely guys, and just couldn’t believe it. It makes everybody wonder about the sport, the security, the guys who risk their lives for their passion. When I get through my pics, only since 2013, there are a few guys missing now, it makes me so sad I’m not able to share them anymore, for now.
It made me also realise that I have mostly pics of road racers on the bikes, very few from the paddock, the human side of road racing. Just because I don’t’ like to bother when I’m around. But then I don’t have the smiley faces part, the nice and friendly side of road racing.
As road racing is not only about lads and lassies who race on the roads, it’s also the friendliest atmosphere in racing. That’s why we first loved it, and why we come back.
So our road racing season 2018 started in Cookstown in April, with Emma being 14 months old, crawling everywhere and starting to try to walk. And mostly wanting to see and touch EVERYTHING. But anyway, we wanted to give it a go.
So we left on a Friday morning from Cork, with the idea to arrive to Cookstown early afternoon, and at least get around the paddock at some point before going to the hotel.
BUT, it didn’t quite go to plan.
We had to stop a first time between Cork and Dublin, and it took us more time than planned.
Then we had to stop in Dublin to pick up a document, which wasn’t too bad as we needed the document anyway and it was on our way, but still it took more time as we had to get into Dublin instead of around.
From the border to the hotel, it was quite easy road as it was all National road. Though our GPS kept sending us through backroads and we got lost. I had to take the map out and was about to throw the GPS away…
So we finally arrived to the hotel around 5.30pm, VERY tired, so we decided it was better to get some rest and didn’t go to the paddock.
On Saturday, the breakfast was at 8am, which is quite late on a race day, if one wants to arrive early to the circuit and park as close as possible.
So we arrived too late as roads were closed, and it was packed with cars. We finally found a place to park, but far away from the circuit, and absolutely not ideal in case of “urgent need” from a little girl. So we had to take everything with us, which for some reason we were not prepared for (it was not our first road race though!), and we ended up with our arms full of shopping bags… which is not quite practical when you want to run between fields between races!
We finally walked to the circuit, and settled on the grandstand in front of the pub. But it was full already, so we couldn’t stand as we wouldn’t allow the people behind to see. So we sat during the first race, with Juan very nervous because he was afraid of Emma falling over, and we didn’t see a thing (a few helmets passing by the hedge…).
For the second race, we left the grandstand and wanted to go to another one where we had been the previous time. Even though we wouldn’t be close to the pub in case of any need (changing nappy, bottle warming…). But we arrived to the gate and the second race was about to start so we had to stay in the field, waiting for the end of the race.
So we put on the floor our waterproof cover with all our stuffs, Emma wanted to crawl on the wet lawn, and I spent the whole race trying her not to do it and get soaked. So I missed the second race too.
Then it started to rain. We sat on the cover under our big umbrella, and waited to see if it would stop. There was no racing because of the rain then.
After a good while, before the 3rd race, we decided that it would probably be a good idea to abandon the idea of seeing any racing, and to go back to the hotel…
It was quite difficult to get the car out of the road where it was parked, some cars were still coming in, and it was so packed on both sides! Which was great for the Club. Unfortunately they had many showers all along the day, and racing was called off before all the programme could be ran, after a few red flags and with worsening weather conditions.
So we went back to the village and the hotel, had some tea and coffee with nice pieces of cake, and gave something to eat to Emma. Then we wandered about in the village, had a nap, had an early dinner in the hotel, and tried to sleep, though it was quite difficult as there was a big party in the pub and our bedroom was just above the party thing… We finally got another quieter room around 11.30pm and could get some sleep.
So basically, we didn’t see any racing but learnt a lot of what not to do when going to a road race with a little girl. The pre-walking stage is probably not the best. We will be more prepared next time, with the old good backpack to put everything, not shopping bags… We will try to make it earlier, and if not possible, we’ll check where to park so we can come and go without being stuck inside the circuit. Next time we will get a B&B, not a pub with rooms, it’s not the first time it happens to us, and it seems that we don’t learn lol.
The months of May and June went by with the NW200 and the TT and we had a thought of going to Skerries but finally couldn’t make it. Between the TT, Skerries and the Southern 100 we lost some of the best road racers and all lovely men. It was a tough series of months for the road racing community.
We couldn’t make it to Walderstown either as it was too far and we were still not prepared, but we did venture to Faugheen on the week-end of 21-22 July. This was the closest race to our home.
We only left home on the Sunday morning, it was quite warm as had been all the month of July. Emma only fell asleep half an hour before arriving.
When we arrived the road was closed but we could still walk around the circuit. The best thing with a 16 months old at Faugheen was that we could get access from the carpark to several viewpoints and to the paddock without having to get on the road, but through back fields, which is VERY handy when you are with a buggy and a sleepy little girl. A huge thanks to the Club and the fields owners for giving that option.
We arrived early enough to get a space in one of those truck trailers in the field next to the paddock. While we were waiting for the racing to start we had to take Emma by turns for getting some walk around the field and keeping her busy reading the programme (she loves bikes magazines). We also had time to have an early lunch.
The racing started with some delay, we learnt afterwards that a man had a heart attack in the paddock and luckily was attended by the medical team.
Then finally racing started. And the first race was a really nice one, we enjoyed one at last after such a long break! So we watched the race and I took loads of pics, so many that I hardly saw the race itself, and Derek McGee won (as so many times this season), and we had nice wheelies from him and Brian McCormack.
Brian Mc Cormack
Paul Fallon & Damian Horan
Derek Mc Gee
Derek Mc Gee
Brian Mc Cormack
Thomas Maxwell & Paul Jordan
Brian Mc Cormack
Derek Mc Gee
Think Emma liked it also, though it was starting to get very warm, with the sun getting in our faces now and there was no airflow inside the trailer.
After the first race as it was too warm in there, we decided to go for a walk around the paddock and see if Emma would get some sleep in the buggy.
While the 125cc race was on its way we went to the paddock, bought the new “Support Faugheen 50” tee-shirts, went around the racers outfits and watched a little bit of the next race from a gate where we couldn’t see much but oh my are they fast there!!!
We didn’t remember how fast they go, as since 2016 we haven’t been at any fast viewing point.
As it was starting to be very warm and Emma was getting grumpy and needed some sleep, we went back to the car through the back fields and after a short walk to have a look at the spectators bikes (and a sidecar…), we finally left.
It was a very short racing day but we were happy to have made it again, and we had been bettering off our performance compared to Cookstown! 😉
For next year we still have to figure out how to organise ourselves to go to more than one race, and actually watch some racing lol.
But Emma will be bigger by then, probably will need no more bottle, hopefully no more nappies, and will eat mostly like us, so it should get a little easier on the logistics part!
This year we couldn’t meet any rider either, we hope next year we’ll be able to have more time around the paddocks, and get back to have some chats with them.
2018 road racing season has been a tough one on racers and organisers, it’s just over now with the East Coast Motorbike Festival in Killalane that closed the season incident free.
Roll on 2019! Hopefully see you around a few paddocks!
The weekend of the 15th of August we were going to the last race of our road racing season. There was another one in Killalane (north of Dublin) in September but we had a wedding in Asturias…
So on Friday we left at about 5.30pm to county Tipperary, at about 1h30 from home, the closest road race of the season. We stayed in a B&B at some 12km from the circuit. As I thought that Juan would go out of work late I had prepared sandwiches. But we arrived at 7.00pm, so after a tea/coffee in the B&B we went out to look for a place to eat our sandwiches.
We were at about 30km from Kilkenny, we thought of going there first, but we finally turned at some cross road before, stopped in a village to buy some drinks and went on. At the end of the village, three Asian people were hitchhiking. We stopped to ask where they were going to and they said “at 5 minutes” drive, so there we went. They were from South Korea, volunteering in the village (I think with elderly people but I’m not quite sure about it). After a while we left them at their accommodation. One of the girls told us that we could go to “Kells”, so when we saw the signs indicating Kells, we followed them and we arrived to a place with a carpark, some picnic tables and a view to a rampart and towers of what used to be a priory. We ate our sandwiches with the last sun rays and then we went for a walk around the ruins.
Then we went back to the B&B to rest.
In the morning we left after a good Irish Breakfast, we stopped in Carrick-on-Suir to buy some water and went to Faugheen village.
We parked in the first carpark we found and asked for the shortest way to walk to the paddock. The circuit is kind of a triangle and the paddock was right on the opposite side of where we parked, so about the same distance from one way or the other.
So we got to the paddock to see the bikes and the riders who had already arrived and we bought some essential stuffs for next year road races: a giant Suzuki umbrella and a hat each (Suzuki for me and Honda for Juan of course). I always wondered why we saw so many racers with hats (instead of baseball caps) on TV when they were interviewed. After a few races I understood, it’s just sooooo cold! So now we are prepared for next year 🙂 .
As we didn’t see any good place for photography on our way to the paddock, we went on around the circuit (2.2miles = 3.5km); and we stopped at the next corner “Creamery corner” and settled there. It was still early so that we had some rest in the sun.
At noon they closed the roads and started with the practice and qualifying sessions. They started with some laps for the “Newcomers”, the ones who never raced on that track so they can learn the track.
“Creamery corner” must be a difficult corner because many went straight (in all sessions). All practice sessions started with one or 2 laps leaded by a “Marshall” and with another Marshal and the doctor at the end of the group. Before every race the next day there were also 2 warm-up laps in the same conditions.
We spent all the practice sessions taking pictures…
Derek Mc Gee
Paul O Rourke gives a lift to Derek McGee after his Kawa ER650 stopped after the first warmup lap during Supertwin practice
John O Donovan
Once the practice sessions finished they ran 2 races: Open 201-1010cc (non championship) and Support 401-750cc (non championship). The last one was stopped after an accident but the rider was back on track for racing the next day.
After a while without too much information they announced the classification, informed about the rider and opened the roads. We went back to the carpark and went to Carrick-on-Suir to have dinner and back to the B&B for resting.
The next morning we went back to Carrick-on-Suir to buy some things to prepare sandwiches as we had seen no fish&chips trucks around the circuits except in the paddock. The races had been about to be cancelled as 15 days before they had not enough racers registered to run the event. Fortunately after a call through social media and between riders they got more entries and some riders registered in more categories (for example William Dunlop brought his 125 with which he doesn’t usually race anymore. Though at last he couldn’t race with it for a mechanical problem).
We parked in the same carpark after going to the paddock to buy some tee-shirts for supporting the club.
And we went to the field on the left side of “Gubb Cross” corner, where they had settled 2 open trucks trailers to see the circuit over the hedges.
We got in one of the trailers where there was a good view to the circuit on the left and to the corner on the right, where we would witness many anthology braking, crazy overtaking and also some “too late” braking (with no dangerous consequences. Only one rider had the doctor stopping and he went back to the paddock as the doctor’s pillion lol).
Before the road closing we made friend with a man who arrived at the same time and with whom we chatted of many things while waiting. We used for the first time our umbrella with a short shower though we were quite well sheltered in the trailer. Then a couple arrived, who were friends of the man, and also very nice people and we spent a good day chatting and also laughing a lot because we never knew which race was on as the order was changed compared to the program and we were mistaken with the 2 races that had been ran the previous day, so it was a little confusing… Anyway, it was still very pleasant and exciting to spend the whole day watching the 11 races, with no incident and no rain.
There were two “breaks” with laps done by a rally car from the 70s spinning in each corner of the circuit.
The 600 race, the “Support 201-400cc Championship” and the final race were just heart-stopping, with crazy braking and overtaking at that corner (if you see the corner you won’t believe you can actually overtake there…).
Derek Sheils won the “Grand Final” (and one of the Superbike race) in spite of having missed the qualifying session on Saturday as he was racing at the Masters Series in Bishopcourt (Northern Ireland).
Once again we had a very nice day. On Sunday we took very few pics but we enjoyed the races at most.
After saying goodbye to our 3 new friends until next year, we went back home.
We saw fabulous racing, very well organised, there was no rain and no incident. But I used my hat for the first time and I didn’t take it out in all the day. One of our neighbours told me that he had been living in Ireland for 65 years and he was still not used to the weather… So I still have some margin to get used to it LOL.
We end up the 2015 Road Racing season on a very good note, long will be the wait until April 2016…