Untitled Document

RACEWAY PAST

1960s & 1970's

 

Season 1969

The original cinder tracked opened at Ballymena Showground, but the meetings were irregular and the racing ceased. Original stock car star driver Maurice Stirling is declared the Track Champion.

Season 1977

Stock car racing returns to the County Antrim market town under the stewardship of Robert Mathers (a council official) and Ernie Kilpatrick (ex-hot rod driver).

Racing commences in August on a new tarmac surface with meetings held on a Wednesday evening.

Before the end of the season an Irish Championship for National Hot Rods is staged at Raceway with Alastair Jackson the inaugural winner ahead of Ormond Christie and Robert Francey. Other Irish Champions for the season include a double success for the famous Robinson Bros. Racing Team – Noel in the Senior or F1 Production Cars and Robert in the Junior or F2 Production Cars, while John McGaffin retains the Irish Stock Car Championship.

Season 1978

The first full season of racing at Ballymena with Stock Cars, Formula 1 & 2 Production Cars and National Hot Rods on the programme. Star drivers of the era in the National Hot Rods are names such as Ormond Christie, Tyrell Arnold, Alastair Jackson, Leslie Dallas and Sticky Torrens. Stock Car top men include John McGaffin, Ian McKnight, Ian Murdock, David Muckle, Andrew Christie and Craig Orr. In the F1 or Senior Productions there are many great battles between the Robinson Brothers, Davy Evans, Jim Stewart, Norman Woolsey and Stevie Morrison, while the F2 or Junior Productions feature the likes of Norman Jess, Ian Greer, Tommy Martin and David Cherry.Raceway driver Ormond Christie wins the British title for National Hot Rods at Cowdenbeath, Scotland, the first major victory for an Ulster driver in the class.

Christie follows it up with victory in the Irish Championship at Raceway. Ian McKnight clinches his first Irish Stock Car title at Portadown, Robert Robinson follows up his win in the ’78 Junior title with a Senior Production Irish title at Aghadowey and Ian Greer is crowned the new Junior Champion. Ballymena Raceway is accepted as a member of the NHRPA.

Season 1979

Raceway is at the centre of controversy before the season starts as the Stock Car class splits in two. Ballymena continues to run under the existing 1300 G.T. rules, while Aghadowey and Portadown tracks change over to new rules allowing greater engine and carburettor modifications. The Senior Productions are renamed Super Saloons. World Champion Barry Lee is amongst a host of visiting National Hot Rod drivers who converge on Raceway for Round Two of the NHRPA Grand Prix Series. Local favourite Christie retires after a controversial clash with Geoff Cowley as Gordon Bland takes the victory ahead of Lee and Mick ‘Duffy’ Collard. Christie bounces back at Aghadowey on the Friday night to take victory in Round Three of the Series; lapping Lee’s works Opel Kadett in the process. Pete Stevens and Jerry Wilson are second and third. Lee, back in his customary Ford Escort, and Bland (now World champion) return to compete in the Irish Open National Hot Rod Championship in August. Raceway stages the qualifying heats before Lee retains the title at the Aghadowey Stadium staged final. Christie is in the wars again when his rapid Triumph Vitesse ends up in the fence three laps from the finish while challenging Lee for the lead. Christie retains his British crown at Buxton and the Irish title at Raceway. Gardiner McCluney wins the 1300 G.T. Stock Car Irish title at Raceway.

Local favourites Ed McKendry (Cullybackey) and Victor McAfee (Ballymena) keep the fans entertained with their many battles in the Junior Production Class at Raceway. The pair finish first and second in the Points table and McKendry eventually ends up as Irish Champion.

Raceway regular Davy Evans wins the Super Saloon Irish Championship.

 

 

 

 

 

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