Car racing RETURNED to the Bishopscourt Circuit in Northern Ireland for the first time in 44 years in May. Leinster Motor Club (“LMC”) ran a race meeting for Irish classes on May 12/13.
It was the first time since the 1968 Leinster Trophy meeting that the former World War Two airfield at Downpatrick in County Down, about 23 miles south of Belfast, had been used for car racing although the venue is used regularly for club motorcycle races.
It is also a popular site for single venue rallying and last year, after a raft of upgrades, was approved for Motor Sports Association sanctioned kart meetings.
Leinster Motor Club member, Garry Manning, a former Motorsport Ireland Karting Committee chairman, approached the circuit manager Wilson McKibben last July with a view to the club running a meeting there.
This led to MSA technical director John Symes examining the track and giving a green light for the project subject to certain work, especially on the circuits kerbing, being undertaken.
However, because the circuit is in Northern Ireland, and therefore under MSA rules, the LMC had to appoint a British motor racing club to run the meeting. For this the BARC was brought on board.
Manning, who coordinated the negotiations between LMC, The Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs, Motorsport Ireland and the MSA, said it was a positive move for Irish motor racing.
He said: If you include the long and the short versions of Mondello Park and Kirkistown we now have four permanent tracks in the country. I facilitated the deal purely for the good of Irish racing. It also allows for Sunday racing which is unusual in Northern Ireland.
The circuit is limited to just 16 days of motorsport activity because of local planning permission regulations but the LMC was granted its mid-May date by circuit bosses.
Over the 1.85 mile circuit and over the two days there was some epic racing, involving the following classes: Formula Libre (www.formulalibreireland.ie ) | Formula Sheane | Formula Vee (www.formulavee.ie/home.php ) | Fiat Unos / Puntos | Strykers (www.irishstrykers.com ) | Global GT Lights (www.globalgtlight.ie ) | Legends (www.samsport.ie ) | Irish Touring Car Challenge (www.itcc.ie) | NI Saloons and the UsedCars NI Sevens (//www.nisevensracing.co.uk/ ).
Great action was had over the two days and in all classes