Former great Richard Turtle to be honoured at Raceway meeting

Former Hot Rod star Richard Turtle will be remebered at Ballymena Raceway this weekend.
Former Hot Rod star Richard Turtle will be remebered at Ballymena Raceway this weekend.

National Hot Rod racing in Northern Ireland will remember one of its past favourites on Friday evening (June 5).

Ballymena Raceway hosts a memorial race in tribute to former Hot Rod racer Richard Turtle.

Cullybackey man Richard, or Dick as he was better known around the ovals, was a regular competitor in the National Hot Rod class during the 80’s and early 90’s but sadly passed away last November.

Richard was a very popular figure at the local tracks, where his wholehearted style of driving and well turned out cars always added to the spectacle at any meeting. Racing against some of the province’s great names such as Ormond Christie, Davy Evans and Norman Woolsey, Richard could more than hold his own and enjoyed many, many trophy wins during his career, including victory in the NHRPA Masters at Knockhill in Scotland.

Dick also represented his country at the 1991 World Final where the Cullybackey man finished in a creditable eighth position.

The current crop of racers concluded their 2015 World Qualifying campaign last weekend and there was success for Broughshane teenager Jaimie McCurdy.

The seventeen year old capped a fantastic first campaign in the elite National Hot Rod division by securing the necessary points to earn a spot at the World Finals! Portadown driver Glenn Bell topped the series and was crowned Northern Ireland Champion, with the province’s other World Final places going to John Christie, Adam Maxwell, Stewart Doak, Andrew Murray, Derek Martin and Nigel McCauley.

The National racers will contest two reverse grid qualifying heats on Friday evening to decide their starting positions for the memorial race where the winner will receive the Richard Turtle Memorial Cup.

Two businesses which shared a very close association with Richard, Townparks Car Sales Antrim and Greers of Antrim Volvo, have kindly put forward an additional prize of four new Hoosier Tyres for the winner.

The Hot Rod drivers will also benefit for the Hot Lap bonus scheme which has been introduced at Raceway for 2015, with the driver that records the fastest race lap during Friday’s meeting receiving a £50 award donated by one of Dick’s good friends, and former track rival, Robin Sloan.

Also on the schedule at Raceway this weekend is the finale of the Hill Contracts Supreme Series for the Stock Rods. Series sponsor Paul Hill has very generously put forward a prize of £500 for the overall winner so race fans can expect some keen competition between the Stock Rod men on Friday evening.

County Armagh veteran Wilfie McNiece currently leads the series from Larne’s Gareth Bevan and Broughshane’s Sammy Graham, while Yokohama Champion Steven McKane and Lisburn’s Richard Taylor are handily position to mount a challenge as well.

The points scored in Friday’s heat races will be added to those already accumulated at the previous two rounds to calculate the starting positions for the winner takes all shot out.

The programme of races is completed by the Group Two Lightning Rod, Euro Stocks and Junior Rod classes, with the first race getting underway in the Ballymena Showgrounds at 7:15pm.