Last held in 2019, the world’s fastest road race was canceled in 2020 due to financial issues, with the event going into debt of around £300,000 under the management of Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of most major road races in 2021, but although the sport has returned with a full calendar this year, the ‘Grand Prix’ – which was due to take place from 16-20 August – fell by the wayside again after an £800,000 funding package collapsed at the final hurdle.
The vital cash injection – the biggest ever for motorcycling in Northern Ireland – had been sought by several Isle of Man TT, North West 200 and Ulster GP winners Phillip McCallen and his fellow directors of the Revival Racing Motorcycle Club.
They hoped to use the money to take over the running of the indebted Ulster Grand Prix and for all intents and purposes it looked like their efforts had been successful.
The proposal was given the green light by the Department of Finance and the Department of Economy, but funding was turned down by Tourism NI and plans to stage the Ulster Grand Prix in August had to be scrapped.
McCallen, however, pledged not to give up on getting the financial backing needed to stage the historic road race in 2023.
“Obviously the denial of funding was a blow, but we couldn’t just turn our backs on it,” McCallen said.
“We have applied to the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre) for a permit to run the Ulster Grand Prix with the Revival Club.
“The main ground members of the Dundrod Club are now members of the Revival Club, so we have a good solid ground force in place to run the event, with people like me and Robin Titterington overseeing the commercial end of the race.
“We are talking with Tourism NI about our plans for next year and TNI wants to see the event succeed again. We have already had two meetings with TNI and we are due to meet again in the coming weeks,” he added.
“It’s time for everyone to wake up and smell the coffee. The world has changed and the only way for motorcycle racing to receive adequate support is to make a professional presentation to the relevant government departments.
Looking ahead to next year, McCallen said he was optimistic about the prospects for the Ulster Grand Prix to be held next August.
“I think things are going really well right now,” he said.
“Tourism NI wants to see this event happen and they will work with us as much as possible to make that happen.
“There will be a greater level of interaction and communication between Revival Club, TNI and all relevant government agencies as we move forward.”
McCallen also pledged to incorporate classic racing into the Ulster Grand Prix, with the idea that riders and teams taking part in the Revival Club’s Classic Bike Festival Ireland would then travel to Dundrod the following week.
“We would love to make this a 10-day motorcycling festival in Northern Ireland, with all the riders and teams from our classic festival then racing at Dundrod,” said the man from Portadown, whose popular festival classic made a successful return to Bishopscourt. in Co Down just over a week ago.
“There is an abundance of classic motorbikes all over Ireland, as well as many riders and teams from the UK, Europe and beyond who want the chance to race at the Ulster Grand Prix.
“We can make this a showcase of the best motorcycle racing in the world with classic and modern machinery all in one place.
“We are already in discussions with potential sponsors, so as things stand things look positive and we are fully committed to bringing the race back to Dundrod in 2023.”
A celebratory event marking the 100th anniversary of UGP will take place on Saturday (11am-5pm) in the paddock area, featuring classic and modern racing machines, plus special guests such as Bruce Anstey, Ray McCullough, Dick Creith and Glenn Irwin.