This post was originally written in November 2022. For lack of time I couldn’t prepare it and publish it before now. When I was writing it, I certainly couldn’t imagine that 3 months later we would be in that incredible situation on the Island of Ireland with all racing cancelled in the North and the same uncertainty in the South, because of crazy insurance premiums. Problems still to be solved.
I really hope from the bottom of my heart that we WILL have some racing in Ireland this year 2023. Fingers crossed and hoping to be able to go around the paddocks, have a chat with some riders and organisers, and watch the best racing in the world.
This year it is our 10th wedding anniversary, so also the anniversary of our honeymoon trip, which went through Armoy, our first road race, in 2013. Hope to be able to celebrate it there, watching the most thrilling racing in the world.
Our season started in March, when it was still cold and rainy, with the “Stephen Davison” show organised by the CMRVC in support of the Munster 100 Road Race. The show was brilliant as usual, with a great number of great riders including Peter Hickman, Jack Kennedy and Brian McCormack.
The following day was the “Cork Motorcycle Show“, which was a great success considering the circumstances. It was so good to be back into the Motorcycling world again and meet with other people sharing the same passion. We had great chats with Stephen Davison, Wallace and Gillian from RRI, Roger from FBOS, between others.
The racing season started for us in Tandragee. We had never been in Tandragee before, so this year we thought it was a good opportunity to discover it. And what better place than a road race to celebrate my birthday! As Emma was at school and Juan was working on the Friday, we left quite late and drove straight to county Armagh. We stayed at a B&B owned by a very friendly lady who made us feel at home straight away.
The Friday had been a nice sunny day, a good day for the Practice sessions after such a long winter. On the Saturday morning we woke up to the sound of the rain drops on the windows… not a good start. We had our breakfast and went to the track. We had a go around the paddock, it didn’t stop raining for a minute. We had our rain gear on, and the big umbrella. When they announced the first race, we went to the field just outside the paddock. The Classic bikes were starting. After some wait and several warmup laps, it finally got under way.
We realised that we had forgotten to take something to sit on, we used to have 2 folding chairs, but we didn’t think about it. So, Emma started to be tired, Juan took her on his shoulders, and then he got tired. After the race we went back to the paddock. We saw the first start of the second race, but after a while and some more wait, and a great chat with Andy Farrell, we decided to pack up and leave it for another day. Unfortunately for the organisers, rain did not stop in the whole day, and they had to cancel shortly after we left.
For us it was just good to be back in a road racing paddock, after such a long time, so we were happy despite the rain and all.
On the Sunday we had booked tickets for Armagh Observatory, not motorbikes related, but certainly a fantastic day out for the kids. We spent there a good few hours and only left because we were very hungry and needed some proper food. Emma loved it and we did too! Hopefully we will be able to go back to Tandragee in 2023, hopefully weather will be ok, and we will also go back to the Observatory! On our way down we stopped at Decathlon in Dublin and bought 3 folding chairs, so now we’re ready for the next race!
On the 10th of April, West Cork Motorcycle Club was holding their annual Drag race. At last Juan had been able to register and on the Saturday we all went down to Halfway for the scrutiny. All was good for his bike, unfortunately he had seen at the last minute that helmets must be max 5 years old, and despite having hardly used his, it was just over 5 years old. So that was it for his racing. On the Sunday we went to watch the racing for a short while (Emma was cold), only as spectators. We’ll try again next year!
Then it was a long wait until our next road race. On Saturday June 18th, we were leaving home not too early, dropped our suitcase at the B&B we had booked for the night; the same as last time we had been in Kells, years ago!, and we went to the track.
This time we were better prepared with our folding chairs. The practice was well under way when we arrived, we were at the same corner as the first time we went to Kells. The practice sessions finished quite soon after we had arrived, so we went to the paddock to have a walk around. Once again it was nice to see many familiar faces; we had a chat with Yvonne Montgomery, and after a while we went back to the B&B, had dinner, and went for a short walk to the lake shore, a beautiful place!
On Sunday morning we headed to the track early enough to be able to walk a little bit around the track looking for a good spot. But we finally went back to where we had been the previous day, and took a seat there, close to the village with possibility to buy food and drinks, and a safe place to watch.
The racing started early enough, it was a little bit chillier than the day before (and we were sitting in the shadow of a tree), but we could watch some good racing and take “a few pictures”.
Unfortunately racing came to an abrupt end after an incident further up the road. The rider, a very young man, Jack Oliver, unfortunately lost his life in the accident.
After a while, racing was cancelled, and everybody headed away. This was very sad, nothing was official yet, but we knew what had happened and the journey back home was a sad one. Rest in Peace Jack.
Over the summer, there was a full calendar of road races at sight. We tried to go to Skerries before leaving for our holidays but the prices of the hotels and B&Bs, if any room left, were just mental! So we had to forget about it for this year. For most of the summer we were visiting the family, so we missed the Irish road racing season.
On our way back to Ireland from France, we stopped in Le Mans, for an event called “The Big Car Show”. We booked one day visit on the Saturday and spent the whole day watching nice cars on display, walking around the different stands and what Emma liked most, the stunter Florian Bugs who was brilliant! Maybe she liked even more the Carrousel, as each session just never ended: 15 minutes going round and round and round (and we had bought 5 tickets!!!).
Then we were back home and back to the “routine”, so we didn’t want to miss West Cork MCC TwoHigs Hillclimb on the 18th of September. We left home not too late for a change, and we arrived in Clonakilty around 11am. We put our chairs not at the best spot, but not too far away from the start and watched bikes pass by. We were there for a couple of hours, had a chat with Stephen Davison, and finally headed back home after a while. This was brilliant as always.
But the season did not finish with the Hillclimb! We decided to give a go to the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship in Mondello. We had thought of going earlier in the year but could not make it. So finally on the 25th of September, we headed to Mondello and arrived around 11am. We went to the grandstand that overlooks the first corner and you can also see other parts of the track. We took seat there and started watching racing and more racing. We were thrilled. We are quite close to the action unlike bigger tracks we used to go in the past, and the atmosphere is very similar to road racing – well, many riders are the same ones, so similar paddock and teams!
It was also our first time watching sidecar racing (well, we did see some in Czech Republic but most sidecars were quite old, although not less impressive!), we were hooked! I just loved them, and Emma too!
After a few hours watching racing, we went for a walk around the paddock and before the last Supersport race, as it was already 4pm and we had to drive back home, we reluctantly decided leave. Emma wanted “to watch more racing”. We will definitely be back to Mondello, we had a great day there, great facilities and great racing with great atmosphere!
Our next and last outing of the season won’t be for racing, but we will hopefully be at the Annual CorkToy Run on December the 4th.
And fingers crossed for a full 2023 season!