BALLYMONEY’S reputation as the home of road racing was confirmed at the weekend when hundreds of fans turned up for the launch of a new book from arguably the most popular road racer in the United Kindgom.
‘John McGuiness TT Legend’ has been produced by award-winning photographer and writer, Stephen Davison, and the response to the official launch of the book at Ballymoney Town Hall on Saturday was astounding even taking the organisers completely by surprise.
It is thought to have broken all attendance records for a motorbike book launch.
Queues formed out to the street as a legion of fans waited patiently for the opportunity to meet the man many feel will someday surpass the legendary Joey Dunlop’s Isle of Man TT record.
John McGuinness is, in the opinion of many, one of the nicest men involved in the sport. Not only that - he is regarded as one of the best.
That’s why there was a clamour to purchase the book, have the opportunity to be photographed with him and also have the copy signed by its author.
Local councillor, Bill Kennedy, who is Clerk of the Course at Armoy and a motorbike fanatic, said he had never witnessed anything like it. The Mayor, Councillor Evelyne Robinson, described it as amazing.
“I was here an hour before the start and people were piling in,” she said.
According to the organisers, the first group through the door were from West Cork followed by enthusiasts from Galway and Drogheda.
“They have come from everywhere. I have been taking pictures for fans and they were telling me where they were from. It was just unbelievable,” said one of the assistants selling copies.
John McGuinness was the most relaxed man in the hall, happy to chat to fans about his career, posing for pictures and not only signing the book, but also pictures brought along on the day.
Stephen Davison described it as the best he could ever have hoped for.
“I was sort of worried about how things would turn out, but I didn’t believe it would be as busy,” he said.
Stephen said the decision to take the book launch to Ballymoney was an easy one given the fact that it was the home of the legendary Joey Dunlop.
“This is as much a tribute to Joey,” he said before revealing that the last time John McGuinness was in Ballymoney was at a reception in honour of Joey just before he left for his ill-fated trip to Estonia in 2000.
At one point during Saturday’s launch, there was a real fear that the demand would exceed the supply and the organisers had considered limiting the distribution to one per person.
The book features more than 150 pictures from Stephen Davison who is regarded as the best photographer in this field in the world. It also charts every part of McGuinness’s TT career from his debut in 1996 to his most recent race in 2012.
‘John McGuinness TT Legend’ retails at £17,99 and is now available on Amazon. It is published by Blackstaff Press.