Ulster Grand Prix Interview series: Q&A with Ken Stewart, Secretary of the Dundrod & District Motorcycle Club.
What is your role at the UGP?
I am the secretary of the Dundrod & District Motorcycle Club (DDMC), the organisation that promotes the UGP. My role involves a number of different duties from trackside logistics and grandstand management, to liaising with safety organisations, local residents and emergency services before and during Bike Week.
How long have you been involved?
I have been secretary since 2007, but I have always been a fan of motorcycles and motorcycle racing. I’ve been volunteering at Dundrod for 13 years, ever since I first bought a campervan and started staying at the track during Bike Week back in 2002.
Tell me a bit about the work of the board?
As secretary, I sit on the executive board of the DDMC. The board is made up of six directors and its main function is to prepare and oversee the events during Bike Week, while managing the financials of the Club.
It also has several other important duties. We work to improve facilities both in the paddock and around the circuit, as well as planning how we can attract more spectators to the races and dealing with any logistical challenges that may arise, such as bad weather.
The quality of the racing is also a huge focus for the board. We endeavour to make the track as safe as possible, something that is also part my duties as secretary. The road inspection committee appointed by the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland make recommendations on the safety of the track and any improvements required, and it is our job to ensure these are put in place.
We meet once a month and keep in close communication, constant engaging with each other and with over 400 residents in local areas to ensure the races cause as little disruption as possible.
What does the future hold for the UGP?
We’re continually working on our plans for the future and what we call our ‘Way forward’ document. We aim to increase spectator numbers in the coming years, organising more activities for families and promoting the wide range of events running from Monday to Saturday on Bike Week.
We hope to attract more international fans, as the World’s Fastest Road Race has a huge fan base across the world, many of whom would love the opportunity to visit the races and Northern Ireland
For us, the fans and spectators make the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix the success that it is, so the more money we can generate through Bike Week, the more money we can reinvest in improving the event and securing it for years to come.
The race attracts a huge following, how do you create an event to suit everyone’s individual needs?
Our emphasis is always on safety first and there has been great improvement year on year. We’re attracting more and more top riders while also improving our hospitality in the paddock, which helps us to attract a growing number of fans and cater to their needs.
Not only that but the wide range of accommodation available in Northern Ireland, as well as the growing number of other tourist attractions, has had a big impact. Now more than ever there is so much to see and do. It’s become easier than ever to sample some of the legendary Northern Irish craic and our friendly welcome!
What legacy would you like the 2015 UGP to leave?
For 2015, it’s about great racing and entertainment for the entire family!