Adelaide Motorcycle Festival: Hall right on night for King of showmen Billy
Belfast's annual Adelaide Motorcycle Festival will spark into life tomorrow from 2.00pm at the King's Hall, with World Supersport competitor Sam Lowes and our very own Honda Legend, Michael Dunlop, on hand to 'cut the tape' alongside Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson.
The extravaganza unofficially kick starts the racing season each year, and despite it's current high profile commercial title, for many enthusiasts, who come to mingle, chat and reacquaint themselves with friends, both old and new, it's simply 'Billy's Show'.
The Billy in question is former North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix clerk of course and top flight event organiser, Billy Nutt MBE. The Castlerock man's involvement in motorcycling dates back to 1972 when he first took on the Race Secretary's role at the North West 200.
Known for his brave decision making and leadership qualities, Billy later took over as clerk of course at the North Coast event in 1981 and was at the helm for two decades; also leading the way at the Ulster Grand Prix for a few seasons. He's also the father of former British Supersport rider Marty Nutt.
Now in the slowing down lane of his career, Billy is more at home in the comfort of the King's Hall complex, in amongst the Province's leading motorcycle dealerships, but as he explained, his formative years built a solid foundation for his current role as the Adelaide bike show's head honcho.
"They tell me this is 18 years I've been involved in promoting the bike show and 10 of them have been with Adelaide Insurance Services as our main sponsor," he explained.
"Marty will tell you I'm getting older, greyer and more cranky as the years go on," he laughed, referring to his son, who enjoyed a successful racing career, and is now Billy's second in command at the show.
Over the years Billy has staged shows at Antrim Forum, St George's Market and the Odyssey Arena, but believes the King's Hall is undoubtedly the 'stately home' for the motorcycling fraternity's only show in Northern Ireland.
"The King's Hall is a big draw for the bike fans and with as many manufacturers on the floor as you would see at the NEC in Birmingham – albeit on a smaller scale – and the large number of top class riders we bring, most people see it as a social occasion at the start of every year. We haven't increased the ticket prices since 2009 to give the bike fans value for money," Billy proudly explained.
With Samsung Honda British Superbike star Alex Lowes joining his World Supersport brother at the event on Saturday, and the first viewing of the 2013 race liveried Milwaukee and Mar-Train Yamahas on display – not to mention Ryan Farquhar's all-new Vauxhall backed KMR Kawasakis – it's a show not to be missed.
William Dunlop, Alastair Seeley, Steve Plater and Ian Hutchinson are four other star names who will be there over the weekend. Show times are Friday 2.00pm to 10.00pm and 10.00am to 5.00pm on Saturday and Sunday. Admission for adults is £10, senior citizens £5 and children under 14 go free.