James Courtney, President of the Dundrod and Motorcycle Club, talks about life in the fast and not so fast lane
|James Courtney in action during his racing days. Pic by Stephen Davidson Pacemaker|
JAMES Courtney will tell you road racing is in his blood but once you know his father is a former road racer (in the 60s) then you believe him.
As a teenager James had his fair share of off road bikes and scramblers. Living on the edge of the Dundrod 150 circuit further cemented his love of bikes and instilled him 'I'! the initial passion for road racing. James says: "I remember being 11 or 12 and watching the Dundrod race. Joey Dunlop and Raymond McCullough were racing and I was just in awe of them.
"In 1988 I tried a few short circuits at Aghadowey and at Nutts Corner and by that stage the motorbike racing bug had well and truly bit. My first road race was in 1989 at the Temple 100. It was quite an experience. It is one of my favourite circuits.
"It wasn't long before I was having some wins and I think over my ten year road racing career I had some 75 wins plus a few short circuit ones."
James when asked about his most memorable race recounted the 1992 UGP 125 race, "I had a ten second lead going into the last lap when at the Quarry bends I realised that there was something wrong with the bike. I thought I could nurse it home
when it just seized. Joey (Dunlop) drove past me and went on to win the race, I was extremely disappointed.
It wasn't until 1995 that I had my first win at the Ulster Grand Prix. The Dundrod circuit is like no other, it is home for me, but it is arguably the best road racing circuit, particularly from a rider's point of view. It has got it all, 30 odd bends and it's a real road racing circuit."
When James was asked about how he got involved with the organisation of the Ulster Grand Prix, he says, "I have always been in the Dundrod and
District Motorcycle Club, probably some 20 years now. You needed to be in the Club to race but in the beginning the local Club really supported and helped me and other local riders.
"I stopped racing shortly after the crash in the Isle of Man in 1999, I stayed in the Club to help. There is a lot of organising from one year to another. Yes I miss road racing but it was a natural progression for me to help with the administration and the organisation of the event. Safety on the course is paramount, not just for the road racers but for the public and fans attending, it is something we try to improve every year.
"We are delighted with what we have achieved this year. There are new stands at Leathemstown Corner, Dawson's Bend and the Lindsay Hairpin. There's also a new podium. I'm really excited about this year's event. We have had great support this year from DCAL, Lisburn City Council, Stoneyford Concrete and a number of local sponsors.
"This will be a great experience for all those involved in the Ulster Grand Prix. We are all hoping that the weather will be good and that the public and fans come along to support us and watch the world's fastest road race."