West Cork Motorcycle Club Drag Race – Donal Arnold’s Perspective Part 1

West Cork Motorcycle Club Drag Race – Donal Arnold’s Perspective Part 1

In a series of articles, Donal Arnold provides a candid, fly on the wall perspective of the returning West Cork Motorcycle Club drag race.

Part one of Donal’s thorough reflection on an event which mixes Santa Pod style racing with pure road racing spirit, reads as follows:

Sunday the 10th of April saw the return of a magic spectacle to the outskirts of Cork City as you head
West along the Bandon road. A little stretch of asphalt just up from Ballinhassig was closed off to
public traffic to host motorcycle drag racing as organised by the (WCMCC) West Cork Motorcycle Club.

Despite being from East Cork myself this was the first available opportunity I had to attend the races but I was not disappointed.

I was also lucky enough to start off my weekend on Saturday afternoon at the Ramble Inn just down the road from the track. Here was base camp for competitors, club members, helpers, scrutineers and those of us punters who were in search of the faces that made up the West Cork drag race as well as the machinery on display.

For those brave enough to take on the iconic quarter mile drag strip on Sunday, they firstly lined up their bikes at the back of the pub for a technical inspection of their machinery as well as the required helmet, gloves, leathers, boots, back and chest protectors or PPE to you and me!

We baked in the sunshine as eagle eyes put both man/woman and machine under the microscope in search of the all-important pass sticker from the scrutineers. Like me, if your new to drag racing just think about the opportunity it affords us mere mortals to ‘Rung what you brung’ as they say!

A good share of those taking part are-able to run a one-day licence and ride on what is essentially their road bike, blast it down the quarter mile and at the end of the day drive their bike back down the road albeit at a more sedate speed.

Drag racing has a long history at the Halfway and being sat out the back of the Ramble Inn watching the bikes line up, it was hard not to feel like you were part of something special remerging after the enforced hiatus of the last couple of years.

For the most part all classes were scrutineered by about 8pm and while all this was going on all hands were on deck putting the final touches to the road closure plan, crowd barriers, portaloos and the all-important timing caravan. I signed off on my duties and handed across the paperwork to Club multitasker Linda and headed for home.

My next assignment was at the paddock gate on Sunday morning at 7am. For those that didn’t make the Ramble Inn yesterday evening, they eagerly formed a steady queue to go under the watchful eye of the scrutineers.

At 8:00 AM the stretch of road from the Ballinhassig exit down to the Halfway roundabout was closed and a small, dedicated army of volunteers began to form the drag strip, holding area and public viewing areas.

I lent a hand to lay out the crowd barriers that formed the holding area and went down then to scrutineering. The holding area behind the start line also allowed the G Class entrants the luxury of having their bikes on the road along with their own ‘Pit area’ so to speak.

These gentlemen were the premier class in drag racing and there was great Cork contingent with the O’Driscoll brothers Ciaran and Justin, Adrian Dorgan and of course Ted Brady on Mel Nolan’s built Yamaha FJ 1200 Pro Stock.

These Super Street Bikes as they are known have effectively no restriction on chassis, fuel, tyres or engine. As we head towards the start line the sense of anticipation was visibly bubbling as the enigmatic Mr. Tyner gathered the riders for their briefing.

Bhí nóiméad ciúnais I gcuimhne na daoine who had gone to their eternal rest in recent times and it was hard not to feel emotional to see the likes of the Carey brothers from Lisgoold at the starting line in honour of their brother and Denis whom was fondly remembered by the drag racing community amongst others.

So the scene was set and at 10:53am Pascal Bowen and Kieran Kelly had the honour of been the first bikes down the road and filling our nostrils with the smoke from the melting rubber at the start-line.

Photo credit John Burke Photography

Words by Donal James Arnold

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