Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 July 2015

North West 200: Robinson a credit to dad

By Jim Gracey

Published 17/05/2010 | 00:00

Partner Julianna congratulates Paul Robinson on his emotional 125 win, honouring the memory of his road racing legend dad, Mervyn Robinson, 30 years after his crash death
Partner Julianna congratulates Paul Robinson on his emotional 125 win, honouring the memory of his road racing legend dad, Mervyn Robinson, 30 years after his crash death
Ryan Farquhar
Maria Costello, the fastest ever woman around the Isle of Man TT course and is the only female competitor at this year's North West 200
Supersport 600 Michael Dunlop rider pictured at the second practice on the North coast circuit at the Relentless International North West 200
North West 200: Michael Dunlop
Ryan Farquhar pictured at the second practice on the North coast circuit at the Relentless International North West 200
Michael Dunlop pictured at the second practice on the North coast circuit at the Relentless International North West 200
North West 200: 600cc rider Ryan Farquhar
Steve Plater crashes out of the the second practice session on his HM Plant Honda at the Relentless North West 200. May 2010
Steve Plater crashes out of the the second practice session on his HM Plant Honda at the Relentless North West 200
Steve Plater's father Trevor looks on as medics treat his son after he crashed at Quarry Hill during yesterday's practice for the Relentless North West 200
HM Plant team boss Havier Beltram and the team PR Fiona Cole llok on as medics carry Steve Plater away on a stretcher after he crashed at Quarry Hill during yesterday's practice for the Relentless North West 200
William Dunlop (CD Racing Yamaha) in action during Thursday's practice for the Relentless North West 200
Michael Dunlop pictured at the second practice on the North coast circuit at the Relentless International North West 2010
Michael Dunlop pictured in the grid area
Steve Plater races around Metropole before crashing on his final lap during practice ahead of this weekend's North West 200
Keith Amor pictured at the second practice on the North coast circuit at the Relentless International North West 2010
Lucky escape: Guy Martin takes a tumble during today's NW 200 practice
Steve Plater setting the fastest time during Tuesday night's practice session at the Relentless North West 200
Steve Plater had good reason to smile after he led the way in the Superbikes practice
Cameron Donald pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider John McGuinness pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider Ian Lougher pictured at the opening practice night of the Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider Michael Dunlop pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider Cameron Donald
Superbike rider Bruce Anstey pictured at the opening practice night at the Relentless North West 200
William Dunlop pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider Stuart Easton pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
Superbike rider Stuart Easton pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
600cc rider William Dunlop pictured at the opening practice night of the 2010 Relentless North West 200
William Dunlop during Tuesday's 125 practice session at the Relentless North West 200
Ryan Farquhar took time out from his North West preparation for this family photo-shoot with wife Karen and children Keeley and Mya, by leading portrait photographer Francis Meaney whose Venture studio will be exhibiting at the race paddock during Race Week Festival
Darren Gilpin emerges from a humble background to rub shoulders with giants of the motorcycle world at the North West 200
Ballymena's Darren Gilpin pictured at the Relentless International North West 2010

Paul Robinson cracked open a celebratory can of beer and poured out his heart.

To the memory of his North West hero dad, Mervyn Robinson, and the pain of his mum, Helen, sister of Robert and Joey Dunlop.

Minutes earlier, he'd stood on the North West winners' podium to receive the 125 victor's laurels.

Today they rest on the grave of his road racing legend dad, as a promise fulfilled.

There was no more popular and acclaimed winner at Saturday's North West than Paul Robinson, not just as the only self-supporting victor among the bigger names and bigger bikes.

Thirty years have passed since he stood by the track as an excited five-year-old, watching for his dad to ride by, and never seeing him again.

Now, 18 years after joining the family business and becoming a road racer, he'd finally conquered the course that claimed the life of his father in a 500cc crash at Mathers Cross, where his uncle Robert also perished two years ago.

Forty-eight hours after that tragedy, cousin Michael Dunlop transformed the North West 200 from a requiem into a celebration of his father's life, winning the opening 250 race.

Paul Robinson, racing his Honda on modest means, was forced to wait a while longer, to the age of 35, older than his dad at the time he was taken.

But the emotion he felt was no less overwhelming.

“I vowed never to lay a wreath on my dad's grave until I won a race at the North West, which was such a special place to him — and now I can. Words cannot describe how proud that makes me feel,” he revealed as we sat in the cramped van of his one-man team, with partner Julianna supportively alongside.

The salute was to his father but the dedication was directed to mum Helen.

“This is for mum,” he insisted. “I must have put her through hell, going racing. It's been hard for her after what happened to Robert and Joey, and, of course, my dad and I think about them all the time. But my mum stuck by me, knowing this is what I wanted to do since I first started racing at 17.”

And now, with closure, he felt able to talk comfortably of that fateful afternoon, 30 years ago, that shaped his destiny.

“I was here with my gran,” he remembers vividly. “I was watching for my dad coming back round but when he didn't appear, I thought nothing of it.

“It was only later, at tea in Joey's house, that my mum sat me down and told me what had happened.

“I went back to my dinner and even remember what was on the plate, mince and potatoes, but I couldn't swallow.”

Robinson’s was a victory to savour in any circumstances.

As a one man band, he blasted out a fanfare for the common man amid the big-money backed operations and riders now dominating the race.

At his end of the paddock, Robinson relies on, and is grateful for, modest support from backers prepared to believe in him, like Lisburn conveyor belt parts supplier Michael Monroe.

And therein lies the beauty of the North West as everyman’s event.

For all it has grown, tradition and the legacy of those who made it what it is still count for a lot.

Like father, like son.

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