The talented Andrew is racing towards sweet success
There must be something in the County Antrim water, and more specifically Carrickfergus, that produces top-class motorcycle racers. Currently we have double British champion Alastair Seeley and Glenn Irwin leading the local charge in British Supersport, and talented tattoo artist Andy Reid holding top spot in the Pirelli National Superstock 600cc class.
A young pretender to that very same crown is another product of the Irwin racing dynasty, Andrew. The 19-year-old former Irish and Ulster Supertwins' champion dipped his toe into the whirlpool we call BSB in the middle of last season.
Like the rest of his family, speed has never been a problem for County Antrim racers with the surname Irwin, and although Andrew's best-placed finish in 2013 was a mediocre 11th – anyone with the slightest bit of knowledge in British championship racing, knew that this young man's natural ability and speed on a motorcycle would soon have him filling column inches and nudging his way onto a podium or two.
This year Andrew joined up with local team MWR Kawasaki for a full season of action in the cut and thrust National Superstock 600cc class. And after a bit of a slow start, he finally got to spray some podium bubbly a fortnight ago at Brands Hatch – after an impressive third place on the world-renowned Kent circuit.
Working full time as an air conditioning engineer keeps the youngster's feet firmly planted on terra firma, but standing in excess of six feet tall, like his brother Glenn, this young man is about to make a big presence in UK racing in more ways than one.
On the eve of this weekend's sixth round at Thruxton, the happy-go-lucky youngster said: "I always tell people I'm a full time air-conditioning engineer looking to live the dream as a full time motorcycle racer."
Recounting his first British championship podium, young Irwin portrayed confidence in abundance, but equally, a likeable modesty to his persona. "I always knew I had the speed to win; I just needed the confidence within myself," he related.
"I was 10th at the first round and thought that was okay, but I knew I could do a lot better. Then at Oulton I got into the lead and had never been in that situation before in a big race. I panicked and crashed.
"I rode steady at Knockhill then harder at Brands and getting on the podium has given me great confidence now for the rest of the season."
With brother Glenn a former National Superstock 600cc contender and now one of this season's British Supersport class winners, Andrew explained the importance of having his brother and famous dad, Alan, in his corner every weekend.
"We walk the tracks together and places where I would maybe be planning to do this or that, Glenn's giving me his experience and showing me where I'm making little mistakes, and as the weekend progresses I can see big improvements," Andrew explained.
Local man Mark Webster, who owns and runs the MWR Kawasaki team from his base in Hillsborough, has been another influence on Andrew's career.
And with a multi-national restaurant chain coming onboard as a sponsor just this week, young Irwin will not go hungry this season. "We've picked up a deal with Spur restaurant, the South African steak and grill house, who are now in Victoria Square in Belfast. That's a bonus too, but I've a great working relationship with Mark at MWR, so I couldn't be happier all round this year."
"Who knows? I'd love to go to Supersport next year but it takes a lot of budget, so maybe the Superstock 1000cc class, but the goal is to be successful and keep moving forward – so one day I maybe will get the chance to live the dream as a full time racer and not an air conditioning engineer," he smiled.