MANX Grand Prix 2012 proved to be something of a landmark year for one long-standing competitor who scooped not one but two awards after 15 years of trying.
Stephen Carr, who has made the trip every year to the island from his native Northern Ireland since the early 90s was both astounded and elated to receive his first Replica (awarded to competitors who finish within a certain percentage of the winner’s time) for the 400cc Lightweight race on Wednesday afternoon.
But the icing on the cake came at Friday’s official presentations in the Villa Marina when he also took this year’s John Goodall Spirit of the Manx award, presented by the Manx Grand Prix Riders’ Association and voted on by the riders themselves.
Stephen, who works in the press hall of the Belfast Telegraph and is known to everyone by his nickname of Cargo, first raced here as a ‘one off’ in 1997. He’s returned virtually every year since, but the awards came out of the blue.
‘I had no idea about the replica. I just wasn’t expecting it then someone went and checked on the results. Then at the awards ceremony when they started introducing it I thought “that can’t be me can it?”. The missile came from 100 miles away, I just wasn’t expecting it.’
Despite finishing this year’s event on such a high, Cargo, who is 51, said he had no plans to park up his race bike yet.
‘The first time I did it the plan was to enjoy the thrill and never come back but the following year they sent me the entry forms automatically so I came back again and after that I was hooked.
‘I like the place, I like the people, including the people in the paddock, the social side, but in the end it’s the Mountain Course: that’s what makes it.
‘Next year? Absolutely I will be back and I can see myself doing it for a few more years yet.
‘Even after that I’ll still come back. I’m absolutely passionate about it.
‘We’ve been here three weeks now and it’s so depressing to be going home. We are already planning next year’s trip.’
Even his work commitments have not stopped him taking part: ‘There have been some years where I couldn’t get the full period off work and I’ve ended up doing practice then jumping on a plane home to do a shift at work then flying back again,’ he said.
As an experienced competitor and enthusiast Cargo is also one of the Manx Motor Cycle Club’s Manx Grand Prix ambassadors who help to promote the event and offer advice to newcomers.
The Spirit of the Manx award, named in memory of 2008 recipient John Goodall recognises goodwill and good sportsmanship among the competitors.
Commenting on the award, Manx Motor Cycle Club chairman Harvey Garton said: ‘Cargo is one of the real characters of the paddock and the award is well deserved.’
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Weather for Isle of Man
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 8 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west