Travelling across to Northern Ireland for the first time, I already had an idea about the history, prestige and magic of the Ulster Grand Prix but aspects I didn’t know about included finding out the ambience, true raw laid back down to earth nature of the event.
I’ll be honest finding the location of Dundrod was an experience! For any first time visitors, a word of advice buy a sat nav!
Once you make it to Dundrod though, if your a road racing fan, journalist, photographer, enthusiast, you immediately feel at home.
When I first ventured into the paddock at Dundrod and gazed across the course, my immediate thoughts, this is road racing, no filters, grass roots but with a high octane, 21st century feel to it.
Racing wise, action was of the absolute highest level as the likes of Peter Hickman, Dean Harrison, Conor Cummins, Lee Johnston and new Tyco BMW signing David Johnson jostled for race wins.
You couldn’t but not be impressed as well with the exploits of now established International roads front runner, Adam McLean, who showcased again that the traditional home of road racing continues to provide the sport with exciting, hugely talented next generation stars.
From my time viewing the practice, race action in the Joey Dunlop Grandstand, I can honestly say it was one of my most enjoyable experiences from a spectating point of view.
Facilities wise, I had zero complaints; the Grandstand was located close to multiple food stalls, merchandise stalls and toilets.
A huge plus for spectators at Dundrod is the giant TV screen which provides fans with an expert view of all the action round the course prior to racers entering the start finish line.It certainly added to my experience, a huge plus as a reporter writing down the goings on in each race.
From my time spectating I also gained a sense that the Ulster GP hasn’t lost the grass roots nature that makes pure road racing so popular to millions worldwide.
In spite of the bad weather, the delays, the unfortunate incidents, I left Dundrod last Saturday with nothing but positive vibes and also constantly hearing in my head, the Darude Sandstrom song!
The TT, North West 200 are for many more professional events but do they have the likeable factor, friendly all round atmosphere that the Ulster GP provides?
That’s what I gained from my first Ulster GP experience, I could tell why it’s so well liked by the riders, teams, fans and marshals.
I am not one for saying this event or that event is the best worldwide but I will say this, it is an absolute must for any pure road racing fan to attend this illustrious meeting which unlike some events hasn’t changed, hasn’t yielded to altering it’s core DNA, its real, like road racing itself.
Words by Stevie Rial