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16 October 2014
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Revving Back the Years

Ballymoney Museum pays tribute to 75 years of the North West 200

Ralph Bryans, North West 200, 1968 - Photo  Ballymoney Museum

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montage of nw200 posters
"Race day" exhibition - 8 decades of road racing nostalgia

The first North West 200 was held on 20th April 1929. From the 31 entrants, only eight bikes passed the checkered flag.

At the birth of the North West, the now-familiar wail of Japanese race bikes would have been a very alien sound . In those heady days, the roads around Portrush, Portstewart and Coleraine echoed to the thunderous roar of big singles and twins with megaphone exhausts.

Bikes were basic and the riders were heroes. It was a game of rider skill more than technology. Names like Exelsior, Rudge, Velocette & Norton went with those of Malcolm McQuigg, Jimmy Guthrie, Freddie Frith, Stanley Woods and many many others which populated the pages of the race programmes in the early years.

The unforgettable smell of Castrol oil and the rhythmic beat of hot pistons was brought back to life by Ballymoney Museum in May 2004. As part of the year's Bike Fest. Trophies, photographs, race winning motorcycles, helmets, riding gear and all manner of memorabilia from eight decades of Irish road racing was on view over the NW200 weekend, at The Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre, Ballymoney.

four bike montage of NW200

Top left: 500cc race 1971. John Cooper (21) & Geoff Barry (97)
Top right: Ray Amm on the Streamliner, 1953
Bottom left: Phil Read in 1969
Bottom Right: Joey Dunlop 1992

Photography courtesy of Clifford McLean and Ballymoney Museum.


Keith Beattie, Museum manager, who created the exhibition
Keith Beattie, Manager of Ballymoney Museum who put the exhibition together.

Click here for a guide to what the North West is all about

"your place and mine" reporter Davy Apsley went to the races in 2003 and produced a "picture page". Read his account of it here...

Is it an event you'd never miss? What is the atmosphere like and has it changed over the years? Have you any good photos? (You can e-mail copies to us - see the address in the final paragraph below) Do you meet up with the same people year after year?
Do you live abroad and can no longer attend? Have you ever helped in running the event? What's it like to take part? Would it matter if the 'North West 200' came to an end?

Some of you have been sending your own comments and pictures. Click here to see them...


John Henry of Ballymoney
John Henry - has attended every NW200
More NW200 stories

Click here to meet John Henry, who has been to every NW200 race since it all began in 1929.

Click here for sickening news of vandalism to Joey Dunlop`s memorial garden in Ballymoney.

Click here for a guide to what the North West 200 is all about

"your place and mine" reporter Davy Apsley went to the races in 2003 and produced a "picture page". Read his account of it here...

Bring the 'North West 200' to life for the uninitiated and connect up with other enthusiasts, by sharing your memories of this Northern Ireland sporting spectacular.

If you'd just like to add a quick comment, you can post it directly into the site or e-mail us at


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