In 1977 four friends from north Antrim became known as the Armoy Armada. They were motorcycle racing fanatics, their skills honed in part by riding around the back roads of their home village.
Their names were Joey Dunlop, perhaps the most famous rider ever to throw a leg over a motorcycle in Northern Ireland, his younger brother Jim, his brother-in-law Mervyn Robinson and friend Frank Kennedy.
Within three years, two of them were dead after crashes at the North West 200 races: Frank in 1979 and Mervyn the following year.
Joey died in 2000 at a race in Estonia. Jim is the only survivor, having retired from the sport.
It seemed the Grim Reaper had a personal grudge against the Dunlops. In 2008 Joey's youngest brother, Robert, who had come to the sport later, died on the North West track, and, just two days ago, Robert's son, William (32), was killed in a crash during practice at the Skerries meeting outside Dublin - a circuit he had won at numerous times.
There is scarcely a road race circuit where locals cannot point out where some rider has died.
To say it is a dangerous sport - no matter how many improvements are made - is a huge understatement.
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He gave probably the most candid explanation when interviewed for a film made about his famous father and uncle. "Most definitely we are selfish," he said. "It's a great life being on the edge all the time. I don't care; I guess that's what it is."
But there are those who care desperately about their men - they are the partners, the wives, mothers and grandmothers.
William recognised that family means more than even racing when earlier this year he left the TT races on the Isle of Man to come back home to his pregnant partner, Janine. A scan at 20 weeks had caused great concern and William knew he had to be by her side.
The health scare, which fortunately was resolved satisfactorily, made him even reconsider his future in the sport but, sadly, didn't make him end his participation.
In that same interview about the film, he said: "Maybe if I had a kid that might change me. But I can't see it."
He and Janine had a daughter, Ella, and another child on the way. But William didn't change as he suspected and now there are women left to grieve for him.
There is his mum, Louise, who will now follow the funeral cortege of a loved one taken in tragic circumstances for the third time - brother-in-law, husband and son. Then there is Granny May Dunlop who has lost two of her three sons and a grandson to racing accidents.
They know too well the dangers of road racing, but even they could not have expected to endure such hardship, such sorrow and such life-changing events delivered in a trice and often when least expected.
That was very much the case when Joey lost his life.
Michael Dunlop in his best-selling book 'Road Racer: It's In My Blood', described Joey as The Man. He was the racer who never crashed, who never had any of those hairy moments that every other rider has and who never made mistakes.
But whatever happened on that July 2, 2000 - the crash occurred on a part of the track in Estonia where there were few spectators - Joey's bike left the road and hit some of the pine trees lining the route. Joey had parted company with the bike and hit another tree, dying instantly.
Joey's wife Linda was later to recall: "When it happens to some other racing wife you wonder how they can cope. You have the worry at the TT - if they break down and go missing for a few minutes you feel sick. This year, with him winning the three (races), you get back home and think that's your worry over for the year.
"You can be angry now, but you can't be angry for the past 30 years, because the past was good. Joey picked his sport. Unfortunately it took his life, but it gave him and us 30 great years. What makes me really angry is people who try to use his death to destroy the sport he loved."
Joey really shouldn't have been in Estonia but had gone there after a close friend had taken his own life. A famously quiet, self-contained man, Joey didn't want to spend time answering questions about his pal's death so, according to friends, he just took himself off.
He had actually won two races at the track before the fatal third one.
Joey was also renowned for his charitable work, gaining an OBE in recognition of it, and spent many long days driving donations to Romania. He thought nothing of jumping in his van and driving across the continent, either to races or for charitable work. And he spent his last night alive sleeping across the front seats of his trusty vehicle, even though an hotel room was available for him. He was just that kind of man.
In a poll to mark the 20th anniversary of this newspaper's annual sports awards, Joey was hailed as Northern Ireland's greatest ever sports star, with George Best in second place and Rory McIlroy third.
Indeed his funeral attracted one of the largest turnouts ever seen in the province. The motorway leading from the docks was black with motorcycles on the days leading up to the ceremony as bikers from throughout the UK and Europe made their way to Ballymoney where he is buried.
Robert, who was eight years younger than Joey, idolised his big brother and decided to follow in his tyre tracks. His son Michael in his book said part of the impetus was the craic. He was as extrovert as Joey was quiet and would often be at the centre of the good times.
But he was also a very talented rider and like all road racers as brave as they come.
In 1994 Robert had a serious crash on the Isle of Man TT circuit which left him with a mangled arm and a shortened leg. Many thought the incident, which was captured on film, would end his career.
Even William wondered why he returned to the sport but then he realised: "It's a drug which is why my dad couldn't walk away, even when he'd had these bad injuries - he wasn't the rider he used to be. At the time I thought 'why are you doing this' but now I understand."
Robert lost his life at the North West 200 races on May 15, 2008, during a practice session. One of the first on the scene was his son, Michael.
He wrote: "The man lying next to the broken bike is my dad. And he is not moving.
"I screamed to a halt, threw my bike against a bale of hay and ran over to my dad. He was alone. There was no one with him yet. But at least he was alive.
"I was watching my dad die. I just didn't know it.
"Everyone thinks their dad is unbreakable. I knew mine was. He'd tried enough times. The man was Robocop, no question. As bad as he looked on the ground - and there was blood everywhere - I was convinced he'd pull through. He always did."
But not this time.
The following night William spent hours tinkering in the garage in an attempt to make sure his bike was in first-class condition for the race he, his dad and brother Michael had been due to race in. He wanted to win in tribute to his dad.
Sadly for him his bike never got off the grid, but to huge cheers around the circuit Michael won the race.
When the trio had set off for the North West that year, Robert had said that a Dunlop would win that race. He was right, but no one could have foreseen the circumstances.
The racecourse where William lost his life, Skerries, was where Dr John Hinds, one of the two doctors who gave medical cover at road races throughout Ireland, also died when his bike crashed in July 2015.
It had been his long term wish that a flying ambulance service be established in the province and that has now come true. Only last weekend it was scrambled to an accident on the M2 motorway which was closed to allow the helicopter to land and doctors to attend to the injured.
William had won 15 times around the Skerries circuit since beginning racing in 2000. He was on his third practice lap of the 2.9 mile circuit when he crashed at the Sam's Tunnel section on Saturday.
He was once quoted as saying: "You think it is never going to happen to you - you're always going to be the one who gets away with it."
Not, it seems, if your name is Dunlop, probably the most successful dynasty ever to grace motorcycle racing. But success that has been accompanied by tragedy.
Their unique tally of achievements
● Five consecutive TT Formula One world championships