Troubled Mid Antrim 150 called off for 2017

Heavy rain turned the paddock at the Mid Antrim 150 into a quagmire in April.
Heavy rain turned the paddock at the Mid Antrim 150 into a quagmire in April.
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The Mid Antrim 150 will not take place in 2017 following a decision by the organisers to cancel the event.

Jack Agnew, chairman of the Mid Antrim 150 Club, says inclement weather this year combined with a poor attendance has forced the decision.

“This year’s event was dogged with heavy rain prior to race day, which resulted in the paddock turning into a quagmire and a poor crowd attending the event," said Agnew.

"In 2017 the Mid Antrim 150 Club will be promoting the Neil Robinson memorial race as a two day event on July 8-9 at Bishopscourt Race Circuit.”

A statement issued by the club said ‘plans are in place to return the race in 2018 and to become a regular event on the calendar’.

The Mid Antrim 150 was the first national road race of 2016 after being moved to a new slot during the first weekend in April.

A new title sponsor – JFM Haulage – was obtained for the first time since 1982 and hopes were high that the fortunes of the race, held on the popular 3.6-mile Clough circuit, could be revived.

At the time, Agnew told the News Letter: “One of the reasons for the [date] change is because the July and August dates are full of road races with events like Armoy and the Ulster Grand Prix.

“But we also have a school on our course and we had initially aimed for the last Saturday in June as a possible date, which would tie in with the start of the school holidays.

“But to do that we would’ve needed the school closed down for a day and it wasn’t really suitable, so we went for the Easter date instead and if it works for us next year, we’ll be going for it every year: the Saturday after Easter, because the schools are closed for a fortnight up to that date and that gives us the opportunity to push on with course set-up and get everything set-up around the school without any problems,” he added.

“I don’t want to be offending anybody by running the Mid Antrim as the first road race of the year but it’s just the circumstances we find ourselves in.

“Easter is quite early next year and we’ll see how it works for us and then we’ll go from there, because we have to try and accommodate the school as best we can and work in with the holidays.

“Everything is going very well for us and we have a title sponsor for the first time since 1982.”

The paddock was moved to a new location at Cloughwater Road this year but it became a quagmire due to heavy rain, despite the club’s attempt to offer a new solution to competitors following complaints in previous years.

The race has been plagued by setbacks over the past eight years and 2016 was the first time the meeting returned to the Irish road racing calendar since 2013 due to a financial shortfall.