Northern Ireland is the UK’s home of real roadracing – that’s racing between the hedges. The country’s fascination with this ancient art goes all the way back to the British government’s Light Locomotives Act of 1896, which forbade motor vehicles from exceeding 12mph on the mainland, thus outlawing racing on the roads.
Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man weren’t included in this legislation, which explains the creation of the TT and Northern Irish motorcycle events like the Ulster Grand Prix, the North West 200 and those staged around the towns of Armoy, Tandragee, Enniskillen and Cookstown.
This also explains why so many TT greats hail from Northern Ireland – Joey Dunlop, his nephew Michael Dunlop, Phil McCallen, Tom Herron and others. The TT and Irish roadracing are spiritual and also geographical neighbours. The two islands are so close that in May 1985 Joey Dunlop used a fishing boat to get to the TT, but the boat sank, taking five race bikes to the bottom.