The salvation of Northern Ireland road racing in 2023.
When it was announced in early February 2023 that the entire Northern Ireland road racing season was to be cancelled, the excitement was intense. Northern Ireland prides itself on its road races, such as the North West 200 and the Ulster Grand Prix. However, despite the negative news, the organizers of the North West 200 expressed hope on February 10 that they could still find a solution to hold the event in 2023. The main problem was the tripling of insurance premiums since 2022, which made it almost impossible for the organizers to continue the races as before.
Crowdfunding and new insurance agreement save the season
Phillip McCallen, eleven-time Isle of Man TT winner, suggested that spectators who had not previously paid admission could contribute to the solution. In that regard, the Motorcycle Union of Ireland Ulster Centre (MCUI-UC) launched an official GoFundMe page after the first cancellation in February to raise the missing insurance money for the year. By March 16, 2023, £93,530 (about $113,050 or 102,350 euros) of the needed £300,000 had already been raised.
The broad public support enabled the MCUI-UC to accept a lower insurance offer on March 15, 2023, saving road racing, short track racing and trials in Northern Ireland in 2023.
2023 racing season takes shape
Although it’s too late for the Tandragee 100 in April 2023, the North West 200 will take place May 7-13. According to the BBC, the Armoy and Cookstown 100 are also scheduled to return during the season.
North West 200 organizers thanked the motorcycle racing community for fundraising and businessman Derek Keys and his company Euro Auctions for contributing a generous donation to save the event.
Gratitude and optimism for the future
Derek Keys stressed in a statement that helping the North West 200 was an ideal way to say thank you to all supporters. The event brings about 195,000 people to the region, he said, and many businesses rely on such events to bring commerce and prosperity to the area.
John Dillon, MCUI-UC chairman, also expressed his gratitude and overwhelm at the generosity of donors. He emphasized that the amounts raised so far, combined with the new insurance offer, will now make it possible to hold the events in 2023. “Thanks to the efforts of all involved, the MCUI-UC, the organizing clubs and members are deeply grateful and humbled in light of everyone’s generosity,” he added.
Community gets behind 2023 race season
With the start of the 2023 racing season just around the corner, John Dillon urged the racing community to continue to support the events and make 2023 a memorable one. Mervyn Whyte, event director of the North West 200, also thanked Derek Keys and his company Euro Auctions for their generous support.
“In the absence of financial support from the government, the sport was left to its fate to deal with the insurance crisis. Mr. Keys’ intervention was crucial in saving the North West 200 this year,” Whyte said.
Bottom line: 2023 racing season in Northern Ireland is saved
The generous donations, the new insurance agreement and the support of the racing community have resulted in the 2023 Northern Ireland motorcycle racing season taking place. With the staging of the North West 200, Armoy and Cookstown 100, fans are in for an exciting year as they enjoy their passion for motorcycle racing to the full.
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