Lisburn and the Circuit of Ireland
*For event details on Lisburn and the Circuit of Ireland 2016 see the bottom of this post. Beginning in 1931 the Circuit of Ireland, first known as the Ulster Motor Rally, became the Circuit of Ireland Trial in 1936, and finally the Circuit of Ireland Rally in 1956. At its inagural event in August 1931, and based on the famous Monte Carlos rally, the 77 competitors took off from five starting points. The first winner was Jimmy McCaherty of Haberton Drive, Belfast, who won in his Austin 16. The Ladies’ Cup was won by Miss Paddie Naismith, London, who drove an Avon Standard.
The Town’s First Winner Wilbur Todd 1953
Wilbert Todd became Lisburn’s first winner of the Circuit of Ireland (Trial) in 1953. Driving a Dellow, Todd – described as an Irish Trial driving expert – won the premier award in the 1000 miles Circuit of Ireland Trial which concluded in Bangor in April 1953. 140 finished the race, out of an entry of 168. Todd also won the class for open cars.
Footage of Wilbert Todd taking part in the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally:
Lisburn and the Circuit of Ireland 2016
The 2016 rally will be launched in Lisburn on April 7th 2016. For full details see here. Up to 80 cars and drivers from the International section of the rally will converge around the Irish Linen Centre and Museum in Market Square from 6.30pm with the first car being waved off at the official start ramp shortly afterwards. The Ceremonial Start in Lisburn follows the Qualifying Stage in Antrim and marks the launch of two days of competitive rallying taking in stages in counties Antrim and Down. Rally cars will be flagged off from the ceremonial start ramp in reverse order whilst the 15 top fastest crews from the earlier qualifying stage will select their starting position during the evening, ready for the first competitive stages on Friday morning – 8th April.
Joining the ceremonial festivities on Thursday evening will be special guest of honour, former X Factor judge and famous boy band manager Louis Walsh. Louis will be joined by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council Mayor, Councillor Thomas Beckett. Visitors and rally fans will have the opportunity to meet and chat to international rally drivers and co-drivers, collect autographs and watch a programme of family entertainment. VIP guest Louis Walsh will also be on hand to meet and greet spectators and visitors.
The Ceremonial Start festival finishes with a special free concert with celebrated Queen tribute band, Flash Harry. The renowned and high profile local rock band will take to the stage from 8.30pm against the backdrop of the Irish Linen Centre bringing an exciting new twist to the hugely popular Rally extravaganza.