Manx Motor Cycle Club’s centenary year kicked off in style with its annual dinner at the Palace Hotel and Casino on Friday evening.
The event, attended by around 120 members and friends of the club, heralded the start of a significant year in the long history of the amateur road race meeting over the Snaefell Mountain Course.
The function also celebrated what was a perfect start to a new era for the popular event, changes to which – at the admission of club chairman John McBride – did not come easily for many of the committee and close associates of the MMCC.
In his address to the members at the pre-dinner annual general meeting, he said: ‘We were, and still are, aware of the disquiet that the curtailed race programme, lower entry restrictions and loss of the Newcomers race has caused amongst many of our long- term supporters.
‘We are also aware that many competitors and supporters actually prefer much of the new format.
‘It has to be said that the changes were forced upon us by circumstances beyond the control of the club, namely the inability to recruit sufficient marshals and medics beyond the bank holiday weekend.
‘It was difficult personally for most of the committee to accept many of the changes, but we all realise that the future of our event is the most important thing.
‘All of our discussions and dealings with the Motorsport team have been positive and fruitful, but we realise that the financial support for the races depends heavily on their ability to attract visitors to the island and create media interest.’
Following tradition, the guests of honour for the evening were the race winners from the previous year’s event.
These were Stephen Smith (Senior), Francesco Curinga (Junior), Mike Browne (Lightweight), Rob Hodson (Classic Superbike) and Lee Johnston (Senior Classic).
The latter was testing in Spain while fellow Irishman Browne also sent his apologies, but Smith, a Doctor of Philosophy, made his way over from Salzburg in Austria and Curinga travelled to the island via San Marino and London for the function. Hodson had a shorter trip over from his family home in Wigan.
Lieutenant Governor Sir John Loriimer was also in attendance, as was Peel and Glenfaba MHK Tim Crookall, the recently-appointed member responsible for motorsport.
Tim’s great grandfather, Arthur Binns ‘AB’ Crookall, donated the original premier trophy 100 years ago in 1923 that is still presented annually to the winner of the Senior MGP (pictured above).
The chairman concluded: ‘The vast majority of people who come together to make the Manx Grand Prix happen are volunteers who do it without asking for any reward, other than to see a successful event.
‘Let us all work towards making the 2023 Centenary Manx Grand Prix something to remember.’
l More from the event in Thursday’s Manx Independent. Also see this week’s Nostalgia item on page 44 of this issue.