After a meeting of senior race officials on Wednesday evening, it was reluctantly announced that the 65th Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Southern 100 Road Races in association with Greenlight Television have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The Isle of Man Government Chief Minister announced that the current situation could continue at least for another six months and after consultation with the club Chief Medical Officer regarding the availability of doctors and paramedics, many of whom travel from the UK and who will unlikely be able to leave their respective positions, it was decided the race meeting would have insufficient cover to run on the July 6-7-8-9.
With the lack of medical cover and also a lack of required marshals to man the 4.25mile Billown Circuit due to travel restrictions presently in place and which may well be increased between now and July, it was felt by the committee that it was better to take action now, rather than defer on a monthly basis.
This will be a major disappointment for race organisers, competitors and race fans who travel to the famously nicknamed 'Friendly Races' year on year.
This announcement also means the cancellation of the Blackford's Pre-TT Classic road races on 28-29 and 31st May and the Post TT races on June 12 around the circuit just outside Castletown.
First ran in 1955, the Southern 100 has long been a happy hunting ground for Ulster riders, from as far back as 1969, when Brian Steenson won the main Solo Championship followed by Billy Guthrie in 1970, Tom Herron in 1973 and Ray McCullough in 1975.
We then had a Joey Dunlop hat-trick in 1976, '77 and '78, Con Law in 1982 and Brian Reid in 1983, the first man to lap the Billown Circuit at 100mph on the Topping Meats RG 500cc Suzuki.
Joey Dunlop was back in the winner's enclosure in 1991, '93 and '99, with Phillip McCallen taking his only championship win in 1992.
Ryan Farquhar was the Solo Championship winner in 2003 and 2010.
Michael Dunlop was top man in 2011, '12 and '16, our last championship winner as Dean Harrison made it a hat trick of wins 2017, '18 and '19.
In the sidecar championship races, Carrickfergus man Lowry Burton was a five-time winner with various passengers in the 1980s.