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Added: 11 Feb 2020 Category: Older Oval Racing
Some of the Biggest Moments of the 2010s
A look back in brief of some of the biggest biggest or game changing moments in local oval racing during the 2010s. Obviously the loss of Ballymena is huge, but I'm going to stick with the positives or things the jury is still out on.
So, in no particular order....

The Re-Opening of Aghadowey in 2010 & 2014.
After years of rumours of different parties re-opening Aghadowey it finally happened in 2010 when the track was re-opened as Aghadowey Stadium. The track remained the same but it had a new catch fence and the banking had been raised to wall level all the way around the track. In the beginning it wasn’t affiliated and there was a fear that it could become a Spedeworth partner and this became the grounds for the other promotions to work together and in many ways was a catalyst for a few years of class sharing at the other tracks.
With the introduction of 1300 Stock Cars at Nutts Corner and Spedeworth having their foot in the door there, Nuttscorner Oval, later Tullyroan Oval and Ballymena started working with Aghadowey and classes went there on loan from time to time, while they also pulled together to run a Open Hot Rod Points Championship.
Mid 2013 with small crowds Aghadowey Stadium ceased running it’s fixtures and their classes went to Ballymena.
Over the winter of 2013/14 Aghadowey underwent a lot of work to change the shape of the track, new toilets were put in and the track re-opened in 2014 as Aghadowey Oval under the DMC banner.

In 2011 Will Reed became the first visiting 1600/ 2 Litre Hot Rod driver to win the World final in Northern Ireland. He’d been on the pace the previous year’s Speedweekend and while it was a bit of a surprise a visitor won it, it wasn’t a surprise it was Reed. At the time I was running the 2 Litre Hot Rod website and he’d been in touch looking for a DVD of the meeting, at a time no one here did DVD’s of a meeting, at a time when camera phone’s weren’t that great and there was no way to stream a meeting. I seen a gap in the market and the gears were in motion for NIOvalTV. Myself and Jonny Teggart had been going away to meetings on the mainland for a few years at this stage and knew he bought quite a lot of DVD’s, so we discussed it over the closed season and NIOvalTV was born in early 2012 ready to film at Tullyroan and hoping to pick up the odd meeting here and there. We didn’t know at that stage how it would work, it started slowly and our sales of our first few meetings were terrible, but by the end of the first season we were doing OK. With DVD sales falling towards the end of the teens, it’ll be time to make changes to the business for 2020.

Scott Cochrane - The First Streamed World Champion
In 2015 back in the days before facebook live, Periscope was “a thing” and it was the first platform that you could really live stream on. Garry Staines had setup National Hot Rod live videos and did a fantastic job of covering the Ipswich Speedweekend that year. On the Saturday night Scott Cochrane won the Lightning Rod World final and I believe became the first live streamed World Champion, at very least the first local racer to win a live streamed world final.

Since then live streaming has become pretty much the norm, you can nearly watch any race at any meeting without leaving your armchair, I’m not sold that it’s in the best interest of the sport’s longevity until there becomes a way to monetize it to offset lost gate receipts, and even then I’d rather see people going to their local track.

Tullyroan Opening - 26/5/12
I think it was the tailend of 2010 that the plans were accepted for Tullyroan Oval and it became common knowledge that Davy’s McCall’s promotion would be moving from Nuttscorner Oval to Tullyroan. At the time I wasn’t that sold on the idea of travelling twice the distance to go and watch racing, but once I’d been to what was then a building site at the end of 2011 it looked very impressive and I was sold on it the first time I drove up the hill from the entrance to the track and the site comes into view when I visited to do some filming a few weeks before it opened. In a decade of doom and gloom with tracks closing all over the place Tullyroan and Lochgelly are really the two success stories of new tracks opening and becoming well established. The opening meeting was a cracking meeting, despite ending in darkness due to lighting issues, but the rest of the season enjoyed full grids in many of the classes and served up some great racing.

2013 World Weekender - Tullyroan Oval
In my opinion the Tullyroan Oval World Weekender in 2013 was the best all round meeting of the tens in local oval racing. The weekend was the first of the September Speedweekends and the first World finals that would be staged at Tullyroan. It was a time that the ProStocks were so strong in car numbers they needed a last chance qualifier to get them all into the meeting, without checking I think there was around 45-50 ProStocks in action on the Saturday night. Ryan Abernethy eventually taking the win. The Lightning Rods completed the double of World titles and Nigel Jackson won his first World title and the gold roof remained on local cars the remainder of the decade. Looking beyond the two headline classes it was the first trip with visiting Superstox and they were superb, the Stock Rods were also on top form and had the added interest of Glenn Bell racing one as well. It was just an all round great weekend of racing with every class on top form and full grids.

The 2015 Superstox World
I remember well being stood taking photos on the grid of the Superstox 2014 Irish Championship at Aghadowey when Darren Black announced the 2015 Superstox World final would be staged at Aghadowey, at that very moment Aghadowey was that wet the PA wasn’t working properly so it was only those stood close to Darren that heard it.
A much hyped World final came around and turned out to be a cracker. A massive first bend pile up brought about an early restart and then fancied driver after driver went out until it came down to a late battle between Jordan Salmon and Chris Bradbury, Bradbury led and Salmon showed his hand too early moving Bradbury to take the lead, only for Bradbury to fire him into the wall at the shed end and go on to take the win. The first Superstox World at DMC had been a cracker.

The 2016 F2 British
For the first time in over twenty years Nutts Corner played host to a major championship in 2016 when the F2 British was staged there. With the heats on the Saturday night Willy Murray had qualified on pole and looked like he looked like he might take the win of the Championship on the Sunday until he ran out of Petrol during one of the stoppages leaving Chris Burgoyne to take the title.

The 50th Anniversary meetings
Sadly in 2018 at the time of the 50th Anniversary meeting scheduled for Ballymena there was a new pitch being laid at the Showgrounds and it was out of bounds for racing, it’s a shame because it was the track with the greatest heritage and I’m sure Colin Adair would have done something special for it in the posh rooms up the back of the stand. At Nutts Corner Billy Finegan was heavily involved in getting a lot of drivers and cars gathered up and presentations done on track, while at Tullyroan Alan Milligan jr & sr, Elanor Moffett, myself, Darren Black and others were involved in decorating the bar with loads of old photos, trophies and old sets of flags at the Septemeber Speedweekend. There was a great sense of what the sport had meant to everyone involved down the years and plenty of reflection for the greats of the past no longer with is, it was all very nostalgic. The 50th Anniversary meetings were to mark 50 years since the sport began in Northern Ireland, In my opinion it’s doubtful the sport will see another big landmark here, but I hope I’m wrong.

Ballymena 35th Anniversary meeting
The 35th Anniversary meeting at Ballymena in 2012 came at a perfect time, from memory it was a week after the Stock Rod World Championship had been stage at Ballymena and everyone was buzzing about that and also 2012 was probably the height of the promotions working together, so you’d the Nationals there, F2s, Saloons as well as the 2 Litre Hot Rods and I can’t remember what else was there. Norman Woolsey raced a 2 Litre and Ronnie Wright was out in the 1300s, just a few of the attractions you don’t see every day. There was a rolling road show that became a Ballymena thing in later years, a Trolley race and at the end of the meeting there was stars of two and four wheels including Kris Meeke and Jeremy McWilliams who took to the track in Nationals and F2’s. I think it was also the first time Colin Adair used the posh rooms at the back of the stand to host a display of old photos from the Raceway’s past.

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