Antrim man’s new book charts top era of motorcycle racing

A photo of the start of the 200cc race at Carrowdore - one of many images captured in Roy Harris' new book 'Just For The Thrill'.

A photo of the start of the 200cc race at Carrowdore - one of many images captured in Roy Harris' new book 'Just For The Thrill'.

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With no bike racing last weekend it have me a chance to catch up on a few things that I have managed to put on the back burner recently.

One was sit down to read a copy of a new book that came into the Times office for me a couple of weeks ago.

It was Antrim man Roy Harris’ new book, ‘Just for the Thrill’.

The book has something like 400 photographs and articles by many of our home grown stars from various branches of the sport, who were well able to take on the best in the world and beat them. I even found myself looking at a couple of my own photos in there and looked at them through a magnifying glass to identify people in the background.

The book tells the story of in depth motorcycle racing, both on and off road, during what many people regard as the halcyon days on bike sport in Ireland, the 1970s. Days when this small island of ours had some of the best riders in all branches of the sport. Men like Ralph Bryans, to this day Irelands only GP world title holder, Tommy Robb, Ray McCullough, Joey Dunlop, Brian Steenson, Dick Creith, Len Ireland and Tom Herron were wowing race fans all over Ireland.

Off road the likes of Winston Norwood, Dennis McBride, Laurence Spence, then the youngest winner of the Irish MX championship and William Burgess were showing the scrambles (now MX) fans the way it should be done. In trials, men like Davy McBride, Harry McQuaid, Trevor Callaghan, Colin Bell and undoubtedly the greatest of them all, Benny Crawford were showing how the feet up game should be played.

It would have been easy for Roy to have rambled on about how great racing was in those days, but instead he leaves the reader to make their own mind up. He has done a great job putting together accounts of racing from men like Ray McCullough, Mickey Laverty, Alfie Mayrs and John Smyth. Of course the off road side hasn’t been neglected either.

What Roy has produced is definitely a labour of love. That shows in the content and they way it has been compiled. It will, I think, prove to be a great source of entertainment and reference. It can be bought in Easons and costs £14.99.

THIS WEEKEND

This weekend it’s another run to Mondello Park, for the latest round of the ISB championship. With racing on the Sunday only practice is due off at 9am, with racing straight afterwards.