Mid Antrim 150 Road Races a Potted History
The first Mid Antrim 150 Road Races were held on Wednesday afternoon of the 24th July 1946 with a 3pm start due to it being the half day in Ballymena. The Road Races came about when in 1945 a group of members of the Transport of the 2nd Antrim Battalion of the Ulster Home Guard formed the Mid Antrim Motor Club. The founding fathers of the Club included Col Arthur O'Neill of Galgorm Castle who was President of the Club along with Andy Waytt the first Chairman who presided over two meeting before handing over to Mill St Chemist Jimmy Sterling.
The Club was set up mainly for car racing , competitors using 500cc Motorcycle engines. The good work of the founding fathers of the club was carried on by the likes of Malcolm Templeton, Tom Steele, Wilfred Dickey Adam Agnew and Joe Spence, to name but a few. One man who is worthy of a special mention is current member Bobby Smith who epitomises the true Club member as he supports and attends every meeting and function of the club.
The 1946 race was run over a 6 mile circuit called the Ballgarvey Circuit and the race was run in an anticlockwise direction. The start of the race was at Alexander's Farm on the Cushendall Road with the starting grid between the Craigwarren Road and the Kirkinriola Road with the paddock on the Craigwarren Road and adjoining fields. The riders travelled down the Cushendall Road to Ballygarvey Corner, a sharp left hand hairpin bend, through Ballygarvey Village past the clock and onto the Knockan Road at Broughshane where another left hand bend took the riders onto the Quarrytown Road, and then onto the Pillar Brae Road and back to the start/finish on the Cushendall Road. The winner of the very first Mid Antrim race was George Dummigan on a 250 New Imperial, with Malcolm Templeton second on a 350 Manx Norton. Dummigan also won the 250 scratch race. The 350 class went to R. Mead and the 500 race was won by G. Lowry.
In 1947 the circuit was changed to the 10.4 mile Ballygarvey Circuit with the races being run in a clockwise direction until 1954. this new circuit brought in the Letterbox Road instead of the Pillarbrae Road, adding another fifth of a mile to the lap distance. Andrew McNeilly won the Open Handicap Race. Peter Gill the 250 Race and the legendary Cromie McCandless had his first of five wins over the Ballygarvey Circuit. Another change took place for the 1955 races with the course being run in the reverse direction. This Circuit was used until 1963, with no racing in1954 due to lack of entries. Race day changed in 1960 when the event was run on a Saturday when Tom Finlay was the General Handicap winner. Sammy Hodgins won the 250 class, with Billy McCosh the 350 class and Raymond Spence the 500 class.
The races in 1961 saw Raymond Spence winning the handicap race with Sammy Hodgins winning the 250 race, Tommy Robb the 350 race and Billy McCosh getting his first 500 race win. The Mid Antrim 150 meeting was cancelled in 1964 due to the uncertainty of entries following the suspension of the Road Racing Club by the Ulster Centre.
The insertion of cats eyes and white lines on the Cushendall Road in 1965 necessitated the move to the 5.7 mile Rathkenny Circuit with the start and finish at Robert Galbraith's house at Corby Corner, a natural amphitheatre at the end of the Dunbought Road. Len Ireland won the first Handicap Race on this new circuit. Raymond McCullough won the 250 scratch race and Bushmills farmer Dick Creith won both the 350 and 500 races. This was also the year that Dick Creith won the Ulster Grand Prix at a rain lashed Dundrod.
To reduce the number of officials and Marshall required to man the Mid Antrim 150 Road races the club moved to its present course. The Start and Finish is in Clough Village and over the last number of years some really exciting racing has taken place. In 2011 the Road Races were cancelled due to a Malicious oil spill on the Friday night/Saturday morning of race day. A Police investigation took place and to date no one has been charged with any offence. Racing resumed in 2012.
Some Interesting Facts:
- The Official Programme for the first Mid Antrim Road Race cost one shilling (5p in todays money)
- Between 1970 and 1982 the race was known as the “ Gallagher Mid- Antrim 150”
- The first double winner at the Mid Antrim was Bushmills rider Dick Creith, winning both the 350cc and 500 cc classes in 1965.
- The first ever lady competitor at the Mid Antrim was Andrea Williams, competing in the 350cc Race in 1972.
- Brian Reid scored four consecutive doubles at the Mid Antrim between 1982 and 1985.
- Philip McCallen scored the first ever treble at the Mid Antrim in 1988, winning the 125cc, Junior and Senior Races.
- Ryan Farquhar won 5 races at the 2012 Mid Antrim 150 races, a record for the event.
- The first race on the present circuit was held in 1989, Jack Agnew's first year as Clerk of the Course.
This website is for the Road Racing Section of the Mid Antrim Motor Club. The Club have always strived to promote top quality events through professional organisation and approach, a tradition the present officials and committee's endeavour to maintain and even improve.