Eighty years of North West 200 glory was celebrated at Stormont Castle when the Sports Minister Gregory Campbell welcomed invited guests along with past and present riders to the final press conference and celebration of 80 years of racing at “The Triangle”.
Minister Campbell said: “During the past 80 years the North West 200 has rightly earned a reputation as a world class event and has helped to establish Northern Ireland as the road race capital of the world.
“Since its inception in 1929 the North West 200 has grown into one of the fastest road races in the world and continues to attract over 150,000 visitors each year home and abroad.”
The Minister extended his warm welcome to ex rider and North West 200 winner, Mick Grant who flew in from England for the occasion to help celebrate what was one of his favourite races on the road racing calendar.
Grant who remarked on the enormous changes around the coastal circuit since he last raced their in the 80s and was sure they were for the better to ensure safety of riders, officials and spectators alike and commentated that it was great to see the Government spending money to ensure the continuation of this prestigious event.
Grant was also joined by present rider and last years hat-trick winner Steve Plater who is looking forward to May16th when he will renew his on track battles with the likes of his HM Plant Honda team mate John McGuinness who will be hoping to help along Honda’s 50th anniversary of racing celebrations with Plater.
The Lincolnshire man also set down a challenge to be the first rider past the chequered flag, to the Relentless by TAS duo of Cameron Donald and Alastair Seeley during his speech as both men were there to help the celebrations along.
Clerk of Course Mervyn Whyte was delighted to welcome back many old and more newer faces to the celebrations with many race wins between them. With names from 60’s including Len Ireland and Dick Creith, from the 70’s Raymond McCullough and Mick Grant, from the 80’s Brian Reid and Stephen Cull whilst the 90’s were represented by Phillip McCallen and of course the current riders included Seeley, Donald and Plater, who will be hoping to write their names in the history books for the 80th anniversary race in just over a week’s time.