Saturday, 4 July 2020

Skerries 100 Road Races - A Look Back

The first weekend in July is one of my favourite weekends of the year and probably one which I look forward to most. There is only one place to be during that weekend and that is the Skerries 100 Road Races. Unfortunately due to this horrible Corona Virus this years races are not taking place.

Ever since my father took me to my first races when I was six i have been hooked on the event and I can still see a young Phillip McCallen in the paddock afterwards that year surrounded by his bikes and people wanting to get a look at the man who took a haul of wins that day. The paddock back then was in the cricket club which I still think it was the best place for one and miss it not being there even though it hasn't been used as the paddock for a long time. It meant the riders had to do an extra lap so the crowd got to see the winner celebrate a win. I even remember walking into the cricket club lounge where a rock band were playing a gig after the races. I didn't get to stay long as they weren't to dads taste!
Maybe his ears were still ringing from 'Bid D's ' days commentary!

I can still see the Adrian Archibald and the late Joey Dunlop walking together to the clubhouse after they had a belter of a race in the Grand Final in 1999 which Joey won after passing Archibald coming out of Sam's Tunnel another memory I still cherish to this day and one of the best races I have seen round the 2.92 mile triangled course. Sadly it was the last Joey would compete in. I still get the same excitement days coming up to the races as I did when I was kid. You have to make sure you pack the suncream with you too, as no matter if the rest of the island is under a downpour for some reason come raceday in Skerries, the sun shines down brightly. There are more red farmers tans got in that one day than a season in Benidorm and only a handful of times has it rained on race day.

Gillies leap is one of my favourite spots where I have spectated for many years and later photographed from as the riders get the front wheel in the air while trying not to hit the bank on the right. James Courtney was the best for wheelies there. Not much changes around that part of county Dublin, the fields still grow the same crops, some hedges have been cut down and a farmer's shed or two have been updated but that is about it. Its a track where spectators can get close to the action but still in a safe way. People give out about the admission price compared to other events but it is not a cheap event to put on and if you compare it to a round of drinks or takeaway it is small money for a days entertainment.

There have been great battles throughout all classes over the years and I have been lucky enough to see the likes of the Dunlop's, Phillip McCallen, James Courtney, Gary Dynes, Owen McNally, Jim Moodie, Johnny Rea, Keith Amor, Derek Shiels, Michael Sweeney, Derek McGee, Derek Young, Brian Reid, Fran Morrison, Ryan Farquhar, Adrian Archibald, Martin Finnegan, Cameron Donald and Darren Lindsay to name but a few race round the tight lanes in North County Dublin. Sadly there have been tragedies too but thankfully not that often with in recent years William Dunlop loosing his life two years ago and Dr, John Hinds five years ago. I have to admire the club and the people involved who keep the show on the road and lets hope the show continues for years to come. Here are a few images I have taken while at the races.

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