By Kyle White Belfast Newsletter
Phillip McCallen has called for a collaborative approach to rescue the North West 200 in 2023 after former event director Mervyn Whyte warned Northern Ireland’s biggest motorcycle race was in jeopardy.
Whyte, who is still the driving force behind the north coast road race, told a meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council there is a “huge question mark” over the NW200 next year unless additional funding and support is provided to Coleraine and District Motor Club, admitting “we may not run the event”.
However, Ulster road racing legend McCallen – who famously won five races in a day at the North West in 1992 – believes a fresh crisis for Irish motorcycling can be averted.
“It would be a massive blow if the North West 200 didn’t go ahead and it doesn’t bear thinking about, but I do believe there is a way we can prevent this,” said the Portadown man, who is a director of the Revival Racing Motorcycle Club.
“I think we have to understand that times have changed and the only way we can get this to work is if we all start working together.
“The Revival Club has been in discussions with Tourism NI about the future of motorcycle racing in this country, and both TNI and the government want to help racing survive because it’s a very important part of our history, our sporting heritage and also for tourism in Northern Ireland.
“We all need to work together – from local councils to central government, the MCUI and sponsors – if we’re going to ensure a viable future for motorcycle racing,” he added.
“I think we also have to maximise the commercial value that these events provide. To maximise this potential, the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix need to work together and present a whole package.”
The Ulster Grand Prix should have been celebrating its cententary this week but the event was cancelled for a third year in a row after a funding package of £800,000 sought by the Revival Club did not receive final approval from Tourism NI.