The famous Relentless International North West 200 may have grown from a two nights and a day road race event to Northern Ireland's biggest sporting spectacle in terms of spectator numbers.
But the 83-year-old speed festival hasn't lost its' personal touch and those 80,000 fans expected to flock into the north coast triangle over May's Race Week now have more to entertain them ever.
Race veteran Bruce Anstey from New Zealand, preparing for his 10th year at the North West, and newcomer Dan Cooper yesterday helped the local Colerainec ouncil hosts launch their Race Week programme, running from from May 12-19 this year.
Packed with the usual stunt bike displays, live music nights, firework displays, exhibitions and charity fund-raisers, new for 2012 is a Riders Meet and Greet in Coleraine town centre from 1-3.00pm on Wednesday, May 16, giving fans a chance to get up close and personal with the top riders, take pictures and grab autographs.
Coleraine Mayor Maurice Bradley said: “The borough is known throughout the world as the ‘Home of the North West 200 and the event is always a big winner, with local residents and our visitors from around the globe.
“The council has once again excelled in arranging a host of top class activities and entertainment for the Race Week Festival.
“The race is such an important event for this area, providing a real boost in terms of our economy and tourism, and the council are delighted to be involved in such a world class event.
“The emphasis is very much on family entertainment and I am sure that everyone who comes along will be thrilled with all that there is on offer.”
Race chief Mervyn Whyte added: “Coleraine council has created a fascinating mix of family focussed entertainment which will dovetail perfectly with our new ‘Live at the Paddock’ concerts as well as the annual Miss North West 200 competition, the Riders Meet and Greet and, also new for 2012, an Adrian Logan hosted Question of Sport celebrity quiz.
“We’d like to thank council members and staff for all their hard work in putting together our 2012 Festival events and we look forward to a brilliant and buzzing paddock.”
lFull Race Week programme can be downloaded from the council website www.colerainebc.gov.uk