Because the race was a victim of the current epidemic, the local BBC showed, Road, the documentary about Joey and Robert Dunlop and Robert’s sons in place of their North West 200 coverage. You can see it on Iplayer for a few more days at:
Having never been involved in racing, I did not know either of them, although I have met Joey on a few occasions. The image of Joey as a quietly spoken, modest gentleman is exactly how he came across to me.
Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, we had a reasonably active motorcycle club. For a few years during the off season for motorcycle racing, we organised a bus from Bangor to take us to Joey’s Bar in Ballymoney for the night. By phoning in advance, we were able to arrange an evening when Joey could be there. The first round of drink, for the whole busload of us was always on the house, and during the evening, the bar also provided a supper of sandwiches, cocktail sausages and all the usual snacks. Joey himself was happy to pose for photos, sign autographs, chat and play pool, spending most of the evening with us and his local customers.
Joey's bar, 1987. I'm behind the camera. Davy, the organiser is second left.
I didn’t watch much racing, much preferring to ride my bike rather than watch others ride there’s. Still, I have been to quite a few of the local road races over the years. Watching Joey race was always a pleasure. He never seemed to take any factor of a race with anything less than total seriousness. Take the photos below, which were taken by me in 1993 at the Temple 100 road race. The pictures all show tha same small crest, which is located just before the bikes brake hard for a small and slow roundabout used as a hairpin bend. On every lap, joey (No 3, with the yellow helmet) kept tucked in, and his bikes wheels firmly planted on the tarmac. If your wheels are not on the tarmac, they are not transmitting forward motion, steering impulses or braking, i.e. you are not in total control and are losing speed. Not good things in a race, and Joey never once commited that racing sin. Compare his planted picture to some of the other racers at the same crest. Many are quite obviously showing off for the crowd.
The BBC documentary is both a celebration of the Dunlop’s racing careers, and a bitter comment on the dangers of this sport. Any death, particularly in sport is sad. In road racing we lose far too many. Just to get Robert into the picture, the last shot is of him on a Norton rotary, accelerating out of Metropol corner at the North West 200 many years ago.