Trackside Tuesday: The Ulster

08/05/2014 @ 3:54 pm, by Tony Goldsmith10 COMMENTS


Ask someone to name a motorcycle race held on public roads, chances are they will say the Isle of Man TT. The TT is not the only road race, far from it. In fact in a little over a week, practice for the Ulster Grand Prix begins, one of the most popular races on the road racing calendar.

For those of you not familiar with the event, it is held on the 7.732 mile Dundrod circuit near Belfast in Northern Ireland. The Ulster, as it’s referred to by road racing fans, was part of the inaugural Grand Prix motorcycle racing season in 1949, a place it held until 1971.

Unlike the TT’s time trial format, it’s a mass-start race and in recent years has been given the tag “The Fastest Road Race in the World”. The lap record currently stands to Bruce Anstey at an average speed of 133.977mph. Road racing legend Joey Dunlop holds the record for most wins with 24.

Of the current crop of road racing stars Guy Martin has the most with 11. Yes that is the same Guy Martin who has yet to win a TT. The shorter race distances, and cut and thrust of the mass start, appears to suit Guy more than the long lonely TT races.

I have only been to The Ulster once and that was back in 2007. For a road racing photographer who lives so close that statement is pretty inexcusable.

This year I will be putting that right, as I will be heading there on my way home from the MotoGP round at Indianapolis. I will be reporting with regular updates as the event unfolds.

In the mean time here are a couple of videos to whet your appetite along with some links with more information.

Photo: © 2014 Tony Goldsmith / TGF Photos – All Rights Reserved

Tony Goldsmith is an Isle of Man based freelance motorcycle racing photographer specializing in the Isle of Man TT races. He has also covered selected rounds of the British Superbike Championship and MotoGP. His online archive is available at and he can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Judge

    So it’s “The Fatest Road Race in the World” huh? My imagination is picturing crazy things.

  • Tifo

    Ha ha. The fatest road race in the world would be brilliant! Even more so than the Ulster! Even better if it can be a single manufacturer class with something like Honda Groms.

    Back in the real world, I can’t wait for the UGP. For me, the highlight of the real roads calendar. I’ll be in my usual gap in the hedge between Leathemstown and Deers Leap. Fingers crossed for sunshine.

  • It’s the new Harley class.

    That’s what happens when you start writing after several pints of Guinness.

    Sack the editor I say.

  • I was wondering what all the fuss was about…dock my pay accordingly.

  • Tifo

    Not at all. You pair are visionaries…albeit accidentally. You should be pitching this to Dorna as the solution to their post Rossi fears. Marquez is incredible but you want entertainment? You want a show? You need rotund racers!

  • Pablo

    As someone who lives in Northern Ireland, i would say the North West 200 is the second most popular Road Race after the TT and the Ulster third. However as you mentioned above the Ulster and also the NW200 are pure racing events and not time trials like the TT, so you get to see Racers like, Guy, William, Michael and Bruce etc etc racing head to head on the same piece of track. Which can only make for good racing!!!!

    I was at the Armoy Road Races there 2 weeks ago (another road racing event in Northern Ireland) and Michael, William and Guy all won races. Although Michael won the big superbike race at the end of the day on his BMW. So watch out for Guy and Micheal battles at the ulster.

  • n/a

    F**k Michael Dunlop and Guy Martin. Watch out for William Dunlop!!

  • smiler

    Now the rules for racing on public roads have been relaxed this type of racing might well be expanded.

  • L2C

    Finally got a chance to watch those races last night. I think the word nuts applies here. Though that’s some very impressive crazy!

    And I can’t believe the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix is only three months away. Jeez, where does the time go?

  • Elton

    Thanks a ton for posting the 2011 UGP on here! Watched…

    The Ulster is absolutely on my bucket list of must-attend races, like the Isle of Man TT, which sadly I’ve not been to yet, Suzuki 8, Bol ‘d Or, NW200, and probably Macau.