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The Ards Tourist Trophy
(TT) Races

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A plaque on the wall of McWhinney’s butcher’s shop at the corner of Castle Street in Comber commemorates the great Ards Tourist Trophy or TT Race which once ran through the town. This was the famous butcher’s shop corner, a noted feature of the course, where cars didn’t always successfully negotiate their passage from the Square into Castle Street.

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The Ards TT ran from 1928 until 1936. It was a massive event on the sporting calendar, held in August or early September, and attracting up to half a million spectators in any one year. Starting at Quarry Corner in Dundonald, cars raced their way along the public roads (closed of course for the occasion) through Newtownards and Comber back to Dundonald again – a gruelling 30 laps of this 13½ mile circuit. All the great drivers of the day were there, men such as Kaye Don, Carraciola, Nuvolari, Freddie Dixon, Earl Howe and E.R. Hall. They reached speeds well in excess of 100 miles per hour.

The Ards TT ran from 1928 until 1936. It was a massive event on the sporting calendar, held in August or early September, and attracting up to half a million spectators in any one year. Starting at Quarry Corner in Dundonald, cars raced their way along the public roads (closed of course for the occasion) through Newtownards and Comber back to Dundonald again – a gruelling 30 laps of this 13½ mile circuit. All the great drivers of the day were there, men such as Kaye Don, Carraciola, Nuvolari, Freddie Dixon, Earl Howe and E.R. Hall. They reached speeds well in excess of 100 miles per hour.

Tom Corken did very well out of the TT Race. He provided sand for the many sandbags along the course. This was a contract he relished as he was paid not only to provide the sand but also to remove it again. Afterwards he was able to re-sell it, a good business deal by anyone’s standards.

Tragedy struck during the 1936 race in Newtownards when Belfast driver Jack Chambers crashed into a crowd of spectators in Newtownards, killing eight people. The race never ran again.

Winners
1928 Kaye Don
1929 R Carraciola
1930 T Nuvolari
1931 N Black
1932 C R Whitcroft
1933 T Nuvolari
1934 C J P Dodson
1935 F W Dixon
1936 F W Dixon/C J P Dodson

Comber-based production company, Spence Brothers, have produced a detailed documentary film on the Ards TT races, including rare and never-before-seen footage. To find out more and buy the DVD, contact Roy Spence on 028 9187 2480.

A minor crash outside Hugh McWhiniey's butchers shop during the re-enactment of the TT race. The speed involved was minor, the sandbags protected the shop. Come to think about those sandbags ... they may well be bags of potatoes (spuds) so there may well have been champ for dinner.


The copyright owner of this image is unknown and I will give him/her full credit if they contact me.

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