Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Today in motorcycle history, May 15, 1949, 1982 and 2008



  The North West 200 claimed the lives of 3 riders on this day in motorcycle history.  Englishmen P.L. Phillips on May 15, 1949 at Portstewart and John Newbold in 1982 on Juniper Hill and Northern Ireland's Robert Dunlop was killed approaching Mather's Cross on this day in 2008.



  The North West 200 is held each May in Northern Ireland.  The course is a street circuit, made up of public roads running between the towns of Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush (the Triangle) but does include three speed reducing chicanes.  The route, running anti-clockwise enters the outskirts of the towns passing many private homes, restaurants and pubs.  To help improve track safety street signs are removed at parts of the track and bales of hay are used to wrap the base of lampposts and telegraph poles.  I never quite understood removing street signs to improve track safety.  Hmm, "Caution: Road Ends", now that's a silly sign let's remove it.  Who's gonna notice.


 The original start/finish line was located near Magherabouy but moved to the Portmore Road in Portstewart in 1930.  Intended to be held somewhere in the north west of Ireland and organized by the City of Derry & District Motor Club, the initial event was moved to the north coast but the name was never changed and since 1964 the event has been organized by the Coleraine and District Motor Club. 


  The race is one of the fastest in the world, with speeds in excess of 200 mph.  In practice for the 2012 event Martin Jessopp was clocked at 208 mph.  It is one of around fifteen events run on public roads between April and October throughout the island of Ireland.