The 2018 Armoy Road Races, dubbed the ‘RACE OF LEGENDS’ was officially launched at the Bayview Hotel in Portballintrae on Wednesday (20th June).
This year sees the 10th anniversary of the Armoy Road Races in the small village just a few short miles from Ballymoney.
Compared by TV personality and broadcaster Pamela Ballantine, the media launch was attended by members of the media, members of the Armoy Motorcycle Road Raceing Club (AMRRC) and other racing enthusiasts.
Opening the launch in the absence of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor Trevor Clarke started by thanking the organisers for taking the road races to where it is now at over the previous 10 years. speaking about the challenges, Cllr Clarke said the races had went from ‘strength to strength’ and now were a ‘well established event in the road racing calendar, attracting thousands’.
Cllr Clarke thanked the volunteers and organisers for ensuring that the events happens every year and stated that the success was down to their committment. Finally Cllr Clarke wished the races a ‘safe & memorable event for 2018’ wishing the racers ‘the very best of luck as they race for success’.
The AMRRC has over 430 paid members andtalk of holding a road race in Armoy first started in 2007, with their first racing event taking place the following year in 2008. Ten years later, the races are seen as one of the most popular road races on the national calendar.
The chair person of the Motorcycle Union of Ireland David McCallister spoke at the launch and encouraged the ‘local council and government to invest and get involved more with the Armoy Races and indeed all road racing’. Mr McCallister also congratulated the club in their 10th year.
The AMRRC and the Armoy Road Races can thank, in no small part, the 4 members of the Armoy Armada in 1977 who competed in only 3 short seasons of racing. Despite only three seasons, their impact on the local road racing scene was huge. They were Jim & Joey Dunlop, Mervyn Robinson and Frank Kennedy. Sadly Jim is the only surviving member of the Armoy Armada, the other three losing their lives as a result of racing.
Speaking to FUSE FM Ballymoney, Jim said about the races that it was;
“Good to see it in its 10th year and unbelievable it has got this length and now one of the biggest national road racing events of the year in Northern Ireland.
Jim also confirmed that his son Sam Dunlop will be doing a few road races this year, Armoy being one of them.
Bill Kennedy MBE, the brother of the late Frank Kennedy, had some exclusive and exciting news to deliver to the members and attending media. Bill announce that 23x road racing winner John McGuinness would be attending’ along with his wife’ this years Armoy Road Races.
Asked what the success of these road races are Mr Kennedy said;
“We’re a very close-knit community, but also a very close-knit club. We all work hard for each other and we love what we are doing.”
Paul Robinson, the son of the late Mervyn Robinson, was also attending the official media launch. Catching up with the local rider prior to the event, FUSE FM Ballymoney asked Paul about the attraction of the Armoy races to him.
“It’s a special road race to me with the Legends of the Armoy Armada and with it being my home circuit. There is always a bit more pressure but its nice to race so close to home.”
“At Armoy you get plenty of track time and there’s no big holdup.”
The race may have been dubbed the ‘Race of Legends’ but that hasn’t stopped young riders taking park. Two of the youngest not to mention popular up and coming riders Adam McLean and Ballymoney’s own Darryl Tweed spoke about why they enjoy Armoy.
Adan McLean, who last year won the newcomer trophies at the TT said;
“loads of events you go to have a lot of pressure behind then but at Armoy is a bit of crack!.”
Young Tweed also spoke about his fondness for Armoy, despite having to hobble on stage with crutches after running over and breaking his own ankle with his bike recently. Speaking to Pamela Ballantine, Darryl told the presenter that he originally started off in motocross before finally at the age of 25 switching to road racing.
Darrel described the races as;
“easy-going and like a big family.”
Steeped in history and located surrounded by the stunning landscape of Co Antrim, the sights, sounds and smells will be replaced for two days with that of motorcycles and road racing. The Armoy Road Races are something not to be missed by road racing fans and non fans alike.
The Armoy Road Races will take place on Friday 27th and Saturday the 28th July with a packed programme going on as part of their 10th anniversary of the races. For more information keep an eye on the local press over the coaming weeks or check out their website http://amrrc.com/.