Racing on the Irish Roads – Racers Recollections: Mel Gantly

Racing on the Irish Roads – Racers Recollections: Mel Gantly

The third racer to take part in Road Racing News, recently launched Racing on the Irish Roads – Racers Recollections series is Canadian racing pioneer Mel Gantly.

His answers to the Irish road racing themed set of questions, are as follows:

Q1: What is your first Irish road racing memory?

“Sitting on my bike on the Orritor Road before the start of the Senior Support race at the 2018 Cookstown 100, my first-ever Irish road race.

I looked down the road ahead of me, a view I’d seen countless times on DVDs and onboard videos, and couldn’t believe that after all the years of hoping and planning, I was about to achieve this lifelong goal. I’ll never forget how lucky I felt to be there.”

Q2: Present favourite Irish road race?

“Cookstown was brilliant but Tandragee absolutely blew my mind with its fast bends, tight corners, jumps, tight turns and flat-out straights.”

Q3: Who is your most respected fellow Irish roads exponent?

“I respect everyone who lines up on that starting grid but as far as racers I’ve actually shared a track with, I definitely take my hat off to Mike Browne, Aaron Mellish, Shaun Wynne, Tommy Vear, Dave Murphy, James Rothery and Jordan McFerran.”

Q4: If you could alter one aspect, in particular, within the sport, what would it be and why?

“I would love it if every road racing fan was willing to pay for programs at every event, as often it’s the only source of revenue for the clubs organising the meetings.

Many people do but there are those who still aren’t willing and in this day and age of rising insurance costs and other related expenses, it’s one of those small things that could make a big difference to the sport’s survival in the years ahead.”

Q5: To date what has been your favourite Irish roads moment?

“I’ll never forget crossing the finish line at Cookstown for the first time and riding the jumps down Cooleyhill Road, but been passed by the late William Dunlop during practice at Tandragee was a moment that stands above all others.

As I approached the Bomb-hole he swooped passed me on his Yamaha R1 superbike and disappeared through the bends ahead with a degree of speed and skill that left me utterly amazed. It was an immense honour to have shared that bit of road with him for those few brief seconds.”

Q6: Irish road racing summed up in one word, what would it be?

“Ultimate, because to me it’s there’s no bigger challenge in motorcycle racing and motorsport in general.”

Q7: Is there any Irish roads event, that you haven’t raced at yet that you would like to?

“Everyone raves about Armoy so I’d definitely be interested in racing there but I’d also love to give those incredible jumps at Kells a go one day.

The Ulster Grand Prix would be fantastic as well, so hopefully one day that great event will make its return.”

Photo credit: Baylon McCaughey

Words by Stevie Rial #dontletfearcontrolyou

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