Well the final meeting regarding the festival is over. The plans are in place. The people know where to be and what to do. Entries are in for all the disciplines and now we (read as me) can sit back, relax and countdown the hours to kick-off.
After months, no scrap that, years in the making, the Festival of Speed NI is finally becoming a reality, soon to be putting its name on the map as one of the UK and Ireland’s premier motorsport events of the year..
The inaugural Lisburn City Festival of Speed, the first major sporting event staged at the spectacular Maze Long Kesh site, guarantees punters a pit stop in petrol-head heaven.
For those who like their motorsport fast and furious there is a Super Special Stage Rally, with fired-up Fords, Citroens, Hondas, Evos, and Subarus competing head-to-head on a circuit incorporating the Rally Crossover Bridge previously seen at WRC Rally Ireland back in 2007.
Or why not experience the awesome power of the rally cars of yesteryear courtesy of Slowly Sideways Ireland. The growling Group ‘B’ rally cars of the 80’s, now banned from competition due to their sheer power; provide sights and sounds not to be missed.
From the old to the new and the next generation of rally stars will be represented by competitors from Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland, teenagers looking to follow in the footsteps of Fisher, McHale, and McGarrity.
Speed and precision is the name of the game in Auto-Testing, another of the Festival of Speed’s elements, with the top guns from the Ulster Automobile Club’s Championship on hand to demonstrate their breathtaking driving skill.
The 2012 Festival of Speed Maze Long Kesh also showcases a complete cross-section of cars, with gleaming Italian supercars rubbing shoulders with the latest in 4×4 technology and the ballistic Bowler Wildcat, as driven by BBC Top Gear’s Richard Hammond.
Fans who prefer their motorsport to have two-wheels, not four, are also in for a treat. Ryan Griffiths (alias Flyin’ Ryan) brings his fantastic family motorcycle stunt show to the Festival of Speed, complete with pulse racing pyrotechnics.
Mud-splattered competitors from six to 60 will also be in grass-track action courtesy of the Motocross Club of Northern Ireland (MCCNI).
Of course, no Festival of Speed would be complete without doffing your cap in the direction of those magnificent men in their flying machines. The Maze Long Kesh is home to the Ulster Aviation Society and the on-site hangar boasts a growing collection of aircraft including a World War II Grumman F4F Wildcat and low-level strike jet Blackburn Buccaneer.
Throw into the mix a food and merchandising village; a radio road show, and a designated charity (Cash 4 Kids) and this carnival of fast cars and bikes is set to become a welcome addition to the Northern Ireland sporting calendar.
More than half a century ago this former airfield (used by the RAF during World War II) became a venue for motor sport meetings.
However, the 360-acre site has always looked tailor made for motor sport. Fifty years to the day that the Ulster Automobile Club ran its race meeting at the Maze Long Kesh a deputation returned to the site and earmarked it as having the potential to house a spectacular motorsport event.
The past three years have been geared towards formulating and developing the vision, tweaking and tuning ideas.
The stage is now set and on Saturday, April 28, 2012, that concept of a Festival of Speed will finally become a reality.