One of the least known facts about the Relentless North West 200 is that the event’s biggest source of income is from programme sales.
Over 100,000 fans pour into the north coast triangle for Race Week each year but, for the vast majority, it’s a free show.
Now, with organisational costs spiralling, a big push is on to put more programmes into more hands for the Saturday, May 21 speed spectacular.
It’s a North West tradition for fans to flag their favourites by waving their programmes in the air as the riders whizz past.
And that’s inspired the Coleraine club organisers to launch a programme sales campaign, based on the North West wave.
The move has won the backing of home-based 2010 Superbike race winner Alastair Seeley, the Wee Wizard from Carrick.
TAS Relentless Suzuki ace Seeley insisted: “Even though I'm concentrating on racing, I really notice the programme waving and it helps spur me on throughout the day.
“Last year I began to see it from Magherabuoy and particularly at Black Hill and along the Coast Road. It's brilliant to know it's for the riders and I would love all the fans to back this new campaign and make programme waving an even bigger feature on Race Day. Buying a programme not only adds to the overall sporting spectacle but brings in much needed funds to help secure the future of the North West an event which is close to all our hearts.”
Race Director Mervyn Whyte added: “Over the years fans waving programmes in appreciation of local riders has become one of the iconic images of Race Day but it is also the lifeblood of the event in terms of revenue generated. It's a message we emphasise every year and funds raised through programmes are essential to keep the event viable.
“Essentially it is your entrance fee for a full day of world class sport. The glossy 100-pager costs £15 and if you compare this to £75 for a family race day ticket at Knockhill in Scotland for a British Superbike round or £60 for a race day ticket to Moto GP at Silverstone, it's clear the North West delivers good value for money.”
Programme sellers will still be operating along the route to the north coast and in addition a team of promotional staff will be travelling round the course and the pits/paddock area during Race Week to further boost sales.
Programme, grandstand, VIP and paddock packages on available from the revamped race website www.northwest200.org.