In early February, 2023, when it was first announced that this year’s Northern Irish road racing season would completely be canceled, it’s probably an understatement to say there was a bit of an uproar. Road racing has long been a point of national pride in Northern Ireland. From the North West 200 to the Ulster Grand Prix, most (if not all) of motorcycle racing’s best road racers throughout history have tested their mettle on those courses. 

Still, despite the overwhelmingly negative news, on February 10, 2023, North West 200 organizers stated publicly that they were hopeful they could still work something out to stage the event in 2023 anyway. The problem was insurance rates tripling since 2022—which made it virtually impossible for organizers to keep things going as they had been.  

According to some, including 11-time Isle of Man TT winner Phillip McCallen, one possible solution was to ask spectators to start paying—which they historically haven’t done for these road racing events. Somewhat relatedly, after the initial 2023 season cancellation announcement in February, the Motorcycle Union of Ireland Ulster Centre (MCUI-UC) organized an official fundraising page on GoFundMe to ask fans to contribute to make up the insurance shortfall for the year. As of March 16, 2023, it has raised £93,530 (about $113,050) out of a £300,000 goal. 

The swell of public financial support this effort has so far received is partially why, on March 15, 2023, the MCUI-UC was able to accept a lower insurance quote for the year, allowing Northern Ireland’s road racing, short circuits, and trials season to take place in 2023.  

While it’s seemingly too late for a 2023 Tandragee 100—which usually takes place in April—to go ahead, the 2023 North West 200 will take place from May 7 through 13. According to the BBC, both the Armoy and Cookstown 100 national road races are also expected to be back on the calendar later in the season. 

North West 200 organizers expressed much gratitude to the local motorcycle racing community for fundraising, as well as businessman Derek Keys and his company, Euro Auctions, which submitted its own generous donation to keep the event alive. 

“March 2023 represents the 25th anniversary of Euro Auctions and helping the North West 200 gives us the ideal chance to thank all of those people who have supported us over that 25-year journey,” Keys said in a statement. 

“The event sees over 195,000 people visit the region and many businesses, both large and small, depend upon events like this to bring trade and prosperity into the North West area. This event is part of our region’s heritage and I am delighted that with a little help from Euro Auctions, the event can now proceed this year,” he concluded. 

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