Belfast Telegraph

Big race roars out of history with Clady run

By Eddie McIlwaine

Seasoned bikers with long memories will blaze a trail again up the Seven Mile Straight on the eve of the Belfast Telegraph supported Ulster Grand Prix this Friday. For they will go on a re-run over the famous Clady course on which the race used to be staged.

They will set off from Killead village on a sentimental cavalcade along the 16-miles of twisting roads that will take in once-familiar names like Thorn Cottage, Rectory Corner, Christy's Brae and Gregory's Lane which used to trip easily off the tongues of the Prix faithful.

Once again the old course that has not been raced on for 56 years will have marshalls at every bend as fans take a journey back in time to the heyday of stars like Stanley Woods, Les Graham, Jimmy Guthrie, Artie Bell, Reg Armstrong and Geoff Duke.

“But the tour of Clady on classic and vintage bikes, cars and trucks will be perfectly within the law and no speed limits will be broken,” emphasises Brian Swann of the Clady Vintage Motor Cycle Club which is organising the event.

The route which will take in Nutt's Corner and Ballyhill, and of course that celebrated Seven Mile Straight which used to break the hearts of many a rider on the big day, has not been a Grand Prix circuit since 1952, but is still thought of with great affection by veteran race fans.

In the beginning, way back in 1922, the Prix was run over a 20-mile course that wound its way along the runway in RAF Aldergrove and the original pits were at Loanends.

After the Second World War in 1946 the second Clady circuit was designed, and it is along this course that Friday night's cavalcade will tour.

It all begins in the car park of Killead Presbyterian Church at 6.30pm where fans, riders and drivers will be served tea and buns during the evening with the minister, the Rev John Murdock, playing host.

Cash raised at this rerun from the past will go to the aid of the Antrim Animal Sanctuary.

“It's all a gentle prelude to the Grand Prix next day,” explains Brian Swann. “In fact most of the people touring on the Clady Circuit will be at the big race at Dundrod on Saturday.

“Driving around Clady on Friday night though is an exercise in pure sentiment.”

Belfast Telegraph

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