Robinson brothers remembered in touching Bishopscourt tributes
With the death of William Dunlop at the Skerries still fresh in people's minds, another of our local racing families, the Robinsons from Cullybackey, will be remembered this weekend having gone through their own tragedies in the past.
Late brothers Neil and Donny Robinson, both of whom lost their lives in racing accidents, have memorial trophies dedicated to them in the Ulster Superbike Championship series, which returns after a summer break for round five tomorrow and Sunday at Bishopscourt in a Mid Antrim Club promotion sponsored by MJF Building Services.
Practice will be held tomorrow morning from 9.00am followed by an 18-race programme scheduled to commence at midday with all races counting towards the AJ Plumbing-backed USBK and Irish Championships.
On Sunday there will be one set of longer races culminating in the Neil Robinson Memorial Trophy race for the fastest 36 riders from tomorrow's Superbike and Supersport races, while the Donny Robinson Memorial Trophy event is for the fastest 36 competitors from the Lightweight Supersport, Pre-Injection, Super and Production Twin races plus invited riders.
The Neil Robinson Trophy winner will also collect £1,000 for their efforts.
Neil Robinson was British 250cc champion in 1983 before switching to four-strokes and tackling the North West 200, TT and Ulster Grand Prix road races.
His proudest moment came in August 1986 when, as part of the Skoal Bandit Suzuki Team, he won the Formula 1 World Championship race at Dundrod, beating the then-world champion, Joey Dunlop, in the process.
A few weeks later Neil tragically lost his life during practice for the Gold Cup meeting at Oliver's Mount, Scarborough and a shining light was extinguished.
Neil's older brother Donny was twice an Ulster Grand Prix winner and finished third in the Finnish 350cc Grand Prix World Championship race in 1982 before retiring from the sport.
He then made a comeback, unfortunately dying from injuries sustained in a North West 200 practice crash in 1999. Both were Mid Antrim Club members and had many friends within the club.
Carl Phillips and Eunan McGlinchey were the respective winners of the races last year.
Going into this weekend, current USBK Championship leader Gerard Kinghan has a 30-point advantage over Charles Stuart with Ryan Gibson back in third.
In the competitive Supersport class, Korie McGreevy, fresh from his first BSB Superstock 600 victory at Knockhill, comfortably leads the way from Jason Lynn and his younger brother Kia ahead of the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Armoy Club anticipate their biggest influx of visitors from around the globe for their 10th anniversary road races.
Club president William Munnis said: "I am very proud of what the Armoy Road Races have done for tourism in the local area over the last 10 years. We are very lucky to be situated near so many stunning spots like the Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and for Games of Thrones fans, the Dark Hedges.
"We find that once people arrive, they always come back to see more of what Northern Ireland has to offer. This year, we have people travelling from the likes of Switzerland, Norway, America and even as far as Hong Kong, which is amazing."
Race Week begins tomorrow, with the races taking place on Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28, culminating in the Bayview Hotel 'Race of Legends'.
Title sponsor and local hotelier Trevor Kane of the Bayview Hotel in Portballintrae added: "The effect the Armoy Road Races has on local tourism is part of the reason why the decision to be title sponsor this year was so easy.
"It has firmly established Armoy as the No.1 spot for road racing and that is something that the club should be very proud of.
"Every year, we notice more and more people staying in the area during race week, the racing community are very supportive of the local area and it comes alive. Increased visitors lead to more money going straight back into the local economy and that is something we all should welcome."