/ Motorsport

John Kenny reports on the return of the Phoenix Park Motor Races

Updated: Tuesday, 17 Jul 2012 13:02 | Comments

The Phoenix Park Motor Races will make a welcome return in August
The Phoenix Park Motor Races will make a welcome return in August

After the reopening of the Bishopscourt Race track to Circuit Racing for the first time in over 30 years last month, there was further good news for Irish domestic motorsport with the announcement that the Phoenix Park Motor Races will take place this year in Dublin on the 18 and 19 August.

This year's staging will be the 110th anniversary of the event in the ‘Lung of Dublin’.

Since its beginnings early in the last century, when it was a Grand Prix venue, the Phoenix Park has played host to some memorable motorsport weekends,

The most notable in recent times came in the mid 1990s when the Williams Formula One team came to the Park three years in a row and crowds of over 100,000 were in attendance together with live TV coverage

This year's event will coincide with the 350th anniversary of the Park itself and the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Motorsport Ireland are making a special effort to bring motor racing back to the capital.

Now it’s up to Irish racing drivers to make it a success and a weekend to remember this August by turning up in numbers with their cars.

The Phoenix Park races were last run in 2009 but it was a low-key affair with the cars and teams parked out of public view at Farmleigh House which gave no real sense that the racing was actually taking place on the Hawthorn Circuit.

It was viewed as practical decision as the parking that year was dry underfoot, but with the lack of activity in the original paddock, which was just off the main straight in previous years, the event in 2009 was somewhat underwhelming.

In 2010 the Phoenix Park event was cancelled altogether due to lack of interest just weeks before it was due to take place and Motorsport Ireland decided not to run one there in 2011, putting its full concentration into this year’s races.

Ann Stevens has been the Clerk of the Course at the venue for a number of years now and she has persuaded the British Historic Formula Ford 2000 championship to come to Ireland to run and according to reports some 25 cars and drivers are coming to the Park in August.

It will be a non-championship event for their series, but Motorsport Ireland has left the door open to Irish championships, who, with the agreement of the drivers, can run a round of their series at the Park if so desired.

That appears to be unlikely, however, as all of the domestic series have refused to run a round of their championship since the 1990s and that has impacted on entries which ultimately led to its cancellation back in 2010.

The organisers will be hoping that the likes of the Irish Touring Cars, Formula Sheane and Formula Vee can bring decent grids to this year’s event while there are plenty of Formula Ford 1600’s sitting idle in garages across Ireland that would help to turn the Races into a decent spectacle.

“The Phoenix Park Motor Races are an iconic date in the Irish motorsport calendar” said Stevens.

“There is a huge passion for the sport right across the country and it always manages to attract tens of thousands of spectators”

“Many people will have seen the recent motorsport demonstration on the streets of Dublin but now they will have the chance to see competitive motorsport action on their doorstep at the historic Phoenix Park track and all for free.”

It's now up to the drivers and teams to row in behind the event and make it a success.

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