TV documentary: 'Race to disaster'

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Description

Mark Thompson explores the story of the Ards TT motor race. It took place during a unique time in our history, between the wars, not long after the new state of Northern Ireland had been established and was striving for recognition and acceptance on the world stage.

Engineer Harry Ferguson, along with his cohort William Wallace McLeod, a lecturer from the Belfast Tech, persuaded the fledgling Northern Irish government and the Royal Automobile Club to bring the Tourist Trophy, then the greatest road race in the world, to our shores.

From 1928 to 1936, the TT attracted Asian royalty, Italian icons - even notorious convicts, who raced their priceless machines through the streets of County Down. Half a million spectators would watch in awe as Sir Malcolm Campbell, Rudi Carraciola and Tazio Nuvolari drove for up to six hours through Newtownards and Comber on the narrow, bumpy roads between hedges, walls and telephone poles. These were the superstar drivers of their day, the equivalents of Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher today.

As speeds increased year upon year with little regard for safety, the TT was an accident waiting to happen, and in 1936, a car driven by Belfastman Jack Chambers careered into a lamp post at high speed and ploughed into spectators. Eight people died and countless were injured.

Using a combination of rare archive footage, interviews with relatives and experts, Mark tells the story of the Ards TT - ultimately one of tragedy.

Period16 Feb 2023

Media contributions

1

Media contributions

  • TitleTV Documentary: 'Race to disaster'
    Degree of recognitionRegional
    Media name/outletBBC Northern Ireland
    Media typeTelevision
    Duration/Length/Size40 mins
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Date16/02/2023
    DescriptionMark Thompson explores the story of the Ards TT motor race. It took place during a unique time in our history, between the wars, not long after the new state of Northern Ireland had been established and was striving for recognition and acceptance on the world stage.

    Engineer Harry Ferguson, along with his cohort William Wallace McLeod, a lecturer from the Belfast Tech, persuaded the fledgling Northern Irish government and the Royal Automobile Club to bring the Tourist Trophy, then the greatest road race in the world, to our shores.

    From 1928 to 1936, the TT attracted Asian royalty, Italian icons - even notorious convicts, who raced their priceless machines through the streets of County Down. Half a million spectators would watch in awe as Sir Malcolm Campbell, Rudi Carraciola and Tazio Nuvolari drove for up to six hours through Newtownards and Comber on the narrow, bumpy roads between hedges, walls and telephone poles. These were the superstar drivers of their day, the equivalents of Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher today.

    As speeds increased year upon year with little regard for safety, the TT was an accident waiting to happen, and in 1936, a car driven by Belfastman Jack Chambers careered into a lamp post at high speed and ploughed into spectators. Eight people died and countless were injured.

    Using a combination of rare archive footage, interviews with relatives and experts, Mark tells the story of the Ards TT - ultimately one of tragedy.
    Producer/AuthorNorthern Star Productions
    PersonsMarie Coleman