Page last updated at 06:40 GMT, Monday, 18 August 2008 07:40 UK

Memorial revives Ards TT memories

By Paul McKillion
BBC News

Drawing by Brian Willis
Sketch of Kaye Don winning the 1928 Ards TT

Vintage car fans proudly describe it as the biggest sporting event in British history, attracting half a million spectators.

The Ards TT brought the world's leading racing drivers to County Down every year between 1928 and 1936.

But tragedy was to bring the event to an abrupt end.

Now, a memorial will be unveiled in Newtownards, exactly 80 years since the first race was held.

Vintage cars, some of which actually raced on the course, will gather in Conway Square in the town at 1830 BST on Monday for the event.

The actual car which won the 1928 race, a Lea Francis driven by Kaye Don, will have pride of place at the unveiling ceremony.

Roger Corry, chairman of the Ulster Vintage Car Club, said the race was popular for a number of reasons.

"Northern Ireland was the only place you could legally close the roads down for motor racing, and there were some spectacular sections so it became one of the world's most famous races."

Tragic end

Mr Corry said the polished granite memorial will remember the race itself, as well those who died.

In 1936 a driver lost control of his car approaching the Strangford Arms in Newtownards and slid into the crowd, killing eight spectators and injuring 15. The race was never to take place again.

The course was a 13 mile circuit, going from Dundonald to Ards, then Comber, and back to Dundonald. Each race could last up to six hours.

On the fastest section of the course between Newtownards and Comber the cars reached speeds in excess of 120 mph.





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