‘2017 is the 64th anniversary of racing on the legendary Dundrod circuit. Here, we reflect on some of the standout memories at the historic Ulster Grand Prix over the past six decades.’
1953 – The Ulster Grand Prix moved to its current venue at the 7.732-mile Dundrod circuit after being held on the old Clady circuit from 1922. The event held world championship status from 1949 until 1971. Werner Haas, from Germany, won the first Ulster Grand Prix motorcycle race at Dundrod, taking victory in the 10-lap 125cc event held on Saturday, August 13, 1953.
Ken Mudford won the 350cc race on a Norton, with Reg Armstrong winning the 250cc race and Ken Kavanagh victorious in the 500cc event.
1954 – The Ulster Grand Prix was held in June under pressure from the top teams and riders, taking place straight after the Isle of Man TT and reducing the finances required for travelling costs, with only one journey from Europe required instead of two.
1959 – Mike ‘The Bike’ Hailwood won his first race at Dundrod, taking the honours in the 125cc race and setting a new lap record at 84.75mph on a Ducati to win from Gary Hocking. It was the first of 19-year-old Hailwood’s 76 World Grands Prix triumphs.
1960 – John Surtees marked his final appearance at the Ulster Grand Prix with a familiar victory in the 350cc race. Surtees also finished as the runner-up in the 500cc race to John Hartle.
1961 – Popular Scotsman Bob McIntyre won his only Ulster Grand Prix race as he defeated Mike Hailwood to win the 250cc race by 15 seconds. McIntyre was tragically killed the following year after crashing in poor weather at Oulton Park shortly before the Ulster Grand Prix.
1963 – Mike Hailwood set the first 100mph lap of Dundrod on his Privat MV Agusta at 101.128mph on his way to the chequered flag in the 500cc race.
1965 – Bushmills man Dick Creith wrote his name into the history books as he mastered the wet at Dundrod to win the 500cc Grand Prix race from Paddy Driver and Chris Conn. Creith had finished as the runner-up in the 1964 500cc race on Joe Ryan’s Norton to Phil Read in the rain. He retired at the end of the ’65 season.
1968 – Italian legend Giacomo Agostini won the 350cc and 500cc races on the works MV Agusta, winning the 350cc race by almost five minutes. Bill Ivy won the 125cc and 250cc races. Agostini repeated the feat a year later with another brace and won the 500cc race in 1970 in his final appearance at Dundrod.
1971 – The Ulster Grand Prix hosted a round of the World Championship Grand Prix for the final time. In atrocious conditions, Peter Williams won the 350cc race after long-time Jarno Saarinen retired with a broken clutch lever following a crash at the hairpin. Ray McCullough won the 250cc race from Saarinen and Dieter Braun. Jack Findlay won the 500cc race with Tommy Robb finishing on the rostrum in third.
1972 – The Ulster Grand Prix was cancelled as a result of the Troubles. The previous October, Grand Prix House was badly damaged after a bomb was planted in the building by terrorists.
1975 – Mervyn Robinson rode a brilliant race to clinch victory in the 500cc event in the wet, beating Tony Rutter to claim a famous triumph.
1976 – Ray McCullough notched a double in 250cc and 350cc races from Tony Rutter and Ian Richards respectively. He set new lap records for both classes at 110.56mph and 107.18mph.
1978 – Tom Herron became the inaugural winner of the TT Formula One race at the Ulster Grand Prix, although the event was overshadowed by the deaths of John Williams and Jeremy Swann. Williams had previously made his mark as the first rider to win three Ulster GP races in a day. He died after a crash in the 1000cc race, which was also won by Herron, who managed a treble on the day with a win also coming in the 250cc class. Williams, whose accident happened at Wheelers, had won the 500cc earlier in the day from Herron.
1979 – Joey Dunlop claimed the first of his record 24 Ulster Grand Prix successes with a triumph in the 500cc race from John Newbold, who was making his Dundrod debut. Dunlop also added the 1000cc honours after a thrilling battle with Roger Marshall, with Newbold again third
1980 – Now a factory Suzuki rider, Joey Dunlop famously slackened off to allow team-mate Graeme Crosby through to take victory in the TT Formula 1 race, handing the Kiwi the world title as key rival Mick Grant could only finish third for Honda. His job done, Dunlop racked up a double in the 250cc and 1000cc races.
1982 – Joey Dunlop wrapped up his first TT Formula 1 World Championship after finishing as runner-up behind Ron Haslam. Joey secured the title by six points from English rider Haslam. Paul Cranston won the 500cc race from Sam McClements and Con Law after Norman Brown was forced to retire.
1983 – Joey Dunlop won his second TT Formula 1 World Championship following victory at Dundrod from Mick Grant and Rob McElnea in the wet.
1984 – Another year and more success for Joey Dunlop, who roared to a brilliant treble with wins in the TT Formula 1, 250cc and 500cc races. Dunlop’s final-lap pass on Roger Marshall at the Windmill infuriate his English rival and Honda team-mate, who unsuccessfully attempted to force team manager Barry Symmons to lodge a protest arguing that Dunlop’s move had been dangerous.
1986 – Neil ‘Smutty’ Robinson caused a sensation with a commanding victory in the TT Formula 1 race, toppling the mighty Joey Dunlop to win by over one minute. Dunlop retained his world crown nonetheless and later added made amends with a record-breaking win in the Classic race, upping the outright lap record to 120.83mph. Robinson retired with a blown engine.
1987 – Formula 1 contender Virginio Ferrari completed a handful of laps at Dundrod before flying home to Italy, declaring the seven-mile circuit too dangerous for racing. After a delay, the Formula 1 race was started in horrendous conditions but was soon brought to a halt after German rider Klaus Klein was killed in a crash at the end of the opening lap.
1989 – Carl Fogarty won the Formula 1 world title even though he had to give second best to Steve Hislop in the big race at Dundrod. Joey Dunlop crossed the line in 20th place as he battled back to fitness following his crash earlier in the year at Brands Hatch when he was struck by Stephane Mertens.
1990 – The exhilarating duel between Honda’s Joey Dunlop and his brother Robert on the JPS Norton is the stuff of legend. With race favourite Steve Hislop out on the opening the lap, the Ballymoney brothers were soon locked in battle. Robert was forced to pit for fuel, while Joey was able to complete the race on one tank, making a decisive break to seize a popular victory on the big bike following his Brands Hatch crash.
1992 – A new chicane was introduced at Dundrod at the start/finish in the first significant alteration to the circuit for over 25 years. The meeting was marred by the death of English rider Steve Johnson in the 250cc race at Ireland’s Corner following a collision with Phillip McCallen. Robert Dunlop claimed a dominant Superbike double on the Hymac Norton, with Brian Reid claiming two wins in the 400cc and 250cc races.
1993 – Phillip McCallen bagged a hat-trick in the 600cc, 250cc and Superbike races. The Portadown man took the Superbike win from Joey Dunlop and Nick Jefferies.
1994 – Another day for the history books at Dundrod as Ulster’s Phillip McCallen won four races from five rides. Joey Dunlop edged the first Superbike race from his younger rival after a ferocious battle, but McCallen went on to claim victory in both 250cc races, plus the 600cc event and the final Superbike race, which he won from Jason Griffiths. Welshman Griffiths set a new outright lap record at 126.10mph in the race.
1995 – Joey Dunlop rattled off another hat-trick in the Superbike and both 250cc races. Dunlop defeated Robert Holden on his RC45 Honda and completed his treble with wins over Mick Lofthouse and James Courtney on his little Honda. Joey sat out of the second Superbike race following his exertions in the blistering heat. Tragically, Sidecar driver Marty Murphy died following a crash at Leathemstown.
1996 – The year belonged to Phillip McCallen, who made Ulster Grand Prix history with five wins from five starts. Supermac flew to Dundrod following practice for the Thunderbike Championship at Brands Hatch on the Friday and destroyed the opposition. Ian Lougher could have spoiled the party in the first 250cc race, but crashed out at the hairpin. McCallen won the second 250cc race with ease with Lougher a non-starter and added the 600cc and both Superbike wins to cap a memorable day.
1999 – On a day of highs and lows at Dundrod, Joey Dunlop pulled out of the stops with one of his best ever rides to defeat V&M Yamaha hot-shot David Jefferies on his ageing RC45 Honda to win the second Superbike race. Jefferies, making his Ulster GP debut, won the opener and also set a new lap record at 126.85mph as he tried unsuccessfully to reel in Joey in the second race. Sadly, popular Colerain man Owen McNally was killed after a crash in the final race of the day while leading the 250cc event at Dawsons Bend.
2002 – Darran Lindsay and Ian Lougher each claimed a treble. Lindsay won the 600cc Production, 125cc and 250cc races on his home circuit. Lougher earned a Superbike double plus victory in the 600cc Supersport race. Rising star Gary Jess was tragically killed after a crash in the first Superbike race at Cochranstown.
2003 – Bruce Anstey took his maiden Ulster GP triumph after a mammoth battle with Adrian Archibald in the 1000cc Production race. Archibald raised the lap record to 128.2012mph on the TAS Suzuki on his way to victory in the first Superbike race.
2004 – Kiwi Bruce Anstey cemented a treble, winning the first superbike race from John McGuinness and twice beating Ryan Farquhar in the 600cc Production and Supersport races. Anstey smashed the outright lap record with a speed of 129.03mph.
2005 – Ian Lougher completed another hat-trick, with wins in both Superbike races, beating Bruce Anstey and Guy Martin. He also had the upper-hand over Anstey in the Production race. John McGuinness sealed a 250cc and Supersport brace.
2006 – Guy Martin made a name for himself with a stunning four-timer, winning both Superbike and Supersport races on the AIM Yamahas. Ian Hutchinson established a new outright lap record at 130.828mph in the feature Superbike race.
2007 – Poor weather hampered the race schedule with the second Superbike and Supersport races cancelled. Ian Hutchinson won the only Superbike race on the HM Plant Honda, which was shortened to three laps. Ryan Farquhar was victorious in the Superstock race with Guy Martin (Supersport) and William Dunlop (250cc) also on the top step.
2008 – Torrential downpours forced the organisers to cancel the event without a single race held.
2010 – Ian Hutchinson followed up his Isle of Man TT five-timer with three wins at the Ulster Grand Prix in the Superbike, Supersport and Superstock classes, while Bruce Anstey set the fastest ever lap at Dundrod on his final ride for the TAS Suzuki team at 133.975mph on the final lap of the second Superbike race as the Kiwi clinched victory.
2011 – Michel Dunlop claimed a treble, twice passing brother William at the hairpin in the Supersport races on his Yamaha to take the wins. Dunlop also fended off Guy Martin’s challenge to win the Superstock race. Bruce Anstey and Guy Martin had a win apiece in the Superbike races.
2012 – Guy Martin won the main Ulster GP Superbike race after Michael Dunlop slid off at the hairpin on the penultimate lap. Dunlop hit back to win the second Superbike race following his earlier win over Ian Lougher in the Superstock event. Bruce Anstey and William Dunlop shared the Supersport victories.
2014 – Bruce Anstey proves there is no substitute for experience as he scores his maiden Man of the Meeting crown. The New Zealander recorded wins in the Superbike and Supersport classes as well as a third place in the Superstock race, and was never far from the front in each of the practice sessions.
2015 – Lee Johnston confirms his place as one of the brightest talents in road racing with three wins and the overall Man of the Meeting crown. Derek McGee and Bruce Anstey were among the other winners, but the highlight for many was the final Superbike race of the day, which was won by Peter Hickman after a masterful performance in tricky conditions.
2016 – Bingley Bullet Ian Hutchinson stole the show with four wins, the man of the meeting crown and a blistering new lap record of 134.089mph. Until the very last race of the day it seemed that Bruce Anstey’s 2010 lap record would remain untouched for another year, and then on the final lap of the second superbike race Hutchinson laid down a new benchmark. American racer Patricia Fernandez became the fastest ever female racer at Dundrod with her 118.264 lap, while Peter Hickman clocked 199.8mph in the speed trap, the fastest ever.
2017 – Peter Hickman once again highlighted why he is one of road racing’s brightest stars as he took three race wins on his way to the man of the meeting crown at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix. Lap records tumbled, with Bradford’s Dean Harrison clinching the outright fastest lap record at 134.619mph.