The Eyes and Ears of the Race!

With each interview I do for the Metzeler Grand Prix, my appreciation and respect grows. If it wasn’t for the wonderful and dedicated volunteers behind the scenes this fantastic event would not exist, let alone go from strength to strength each year. As a huge fan of the sport, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone one of you. 
For my recent article, I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with long standing Vice President and Chief Flag Marshal – Tom Best.

Tell us a bit about your time with the club and your role:
I was born and bred in County Fermanagh, and always had a passion for motorbikes. In 1974 when I got married, we moved up to Lisburn and I attended my first Supporters Club meeting. I have been marshalling since 1979.

Over the years with Health and Safety we’ve had to increase the number of marshals. Each one must be in the line of sight of the next covering the whole 7.5 miles of the Dundrod circuit. They are the eyes and ears of the race. The riders never know what is around the corner, we’re there to give them forward warning of anything untoward. As chief flag marshal, I am responsible to ensure we have all 53 marshals on the circuit. That they have completed the training seminar, are fit to do the job and can attend the 3 days of the event. It is a big undertaking.

With the lead up to the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix, I am sure you have a lot to organise. What does this consist of for you?
As well as arranging the marshals for the event, I am in charge of sales for the Joey Dunlop Grandstand and also all the motorhome pitches. This year we have added an extra 50 pitches for the motorhomes bringing it to 107. We have done a lot of work on the new site laying foundations to make it suitable for the hundreds of fans coming from all over the UK and Europe. I allocate all the tickets and post out all the passes. I have posted out tickets to Germany, Switzerland and Austria, it’s phenomenal to see that visitors are coming from all over to witness the World’s Fastest Road Race.

What are your main concerns on the lead up to the event?
My main priority is ensuring that I have all the flag posts covered. I send out letters about 4/5 weeks in advance to all the registered marshals. We also need to have 250 road marshals at the event as well, so I don’t want to Davey Morrison and David McAllister short of men. I try to make sure we have younger, more abled bodies to lift motorbikes and riders if they fall. It is a great feeling when I can go to the Stewards meeting and say I have all my posts covered.

I am sure you’ve had many but can you share some of your best memories from your years at the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix?
You’re right there have been so many, I don’t know where to start. Probably for me, my favourite would have to be back when I was a young lad living at home in Fermanagh. A young rider had come to visit our house in the summer of 1952, Tommy Robb.

He went on to win his first world championship race in the 1962 250 class at the Ulster Grand Prix and as you can imagine as an 8 year old boy, I was over the moon to tell people he had been in my house that summer. Wonderful memories that will stay with me for a long time.


By Natalie Ferris

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