Five Hundred Motor Racing Club of Ireland leased the land so that the members would have a permanent circuit on which to race their cars.
Austin Healeys and Triumph TR2s race at Kirkistown and an old double decker bus was used for race control.
Ivor Bueb who won the 500cc Championship of Ireland at Kirkistown.
Introduction of Formula Ford 1600 class which has become synonymous with Kirkistown.
The first FF1600 championship took place and there has been a FF1600 championship every year since.
We have also had visiting classes from Britain, including Historic Formula Ford 2000. At one time during the 1980s, this was the major class at Kirkistown.
Some 19 ‘500s’ came to visit and put on two close-fought races as part of the UK Historic F3 Championship.
Irishman, Niall Murray, became the first driver to win all three FF1600 trophy meetings in the same year.
Although the Kirkistown Circuit is owned and maintained by the 500MRCI, whose main activities are car and kart racing, there are lots of other events and races taking place at the track on a regular basis.
Championship Sprints are organised by the club on three occasions per year with Larne Motor Club and the Ulster Automobile Club also organising one event each, towards the end of the season.
The UAC also runs the New Year Stages rally in January at the circuit and North Armagh Motor Club run the opening round of the Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship in February.
Naturally, being a racing circuit, Kirkistown is regularly used by teams and individuals for the testing of cars, karts and motorbikes. This usually takes place during weekdays, rather than weekends.
Car track days run from February to November. The main provider of these is Trackskills although the Lotus Club of Ireland, The Porsche Club and the Armagh Motor Association also run one or two
There are usually three big motorcycle race meetings every year. These are hosted by the Belfast & District Motor Club. Their Easter Monday meeting generally has huge crowds, depending on the weather.
Motorcycle track days are catered for by ML Events and run at least once a month, from March to October.
This photograph is taken at Colonial One and shows three Ford Specials in what was then the “1172” Formula. Both of these pictures have come from the collection of Mike Todd.
From this insane speed one has to brake down to approximately 60 MPH for the right-hander called Colonial One. In the early seventies this corner was modified to cope with the rising approach speeds. It was brought forward and eased slightly, making it faster and giving a longer run-off for those having difficulties getting slowed. The old track is still there and when drivers talk about, “Going the long way round at Colonial.” they mean that they couldn’t get slowed enough to make the corner.
On the motorcycle front, Woolsey Coulter, on sporadic occasions, brings his Advanced Rider Training Academy to Kirkistown.
Kirkistown Race School was created, following the closure of Eddie Irvine’s Race School Ireland at the end of 2017, for the purpose of conducting race licence courses on behalf of the Motorsport UK, the governing body of UK motorsport.
As a member of ARDS – the Association of Racing Driver Schools – Kirkistown Race School will carry out licence courses and assessments on behalf of the MSUK in Northern Ireland.
In order to obtain a Race Licence, a driver must first get a Race Starter Pack from Motorsport UK. This contains a numbered application form, a ‘Go Racing’ DVD containing essential information and guidance notes for completing the form, and can be obtained through the Motorsport UK website.
At the end of the straight, one turns sharply right into Maguire’s Hairpin, a confusing corner with more than one useful racing line. Alas, it is difficult to find anyone today who can explain the origins of the name. The picture by Ian Lynas shows the various racing lines utilised by the drivers in the Kirkistown Fiesta Zetec Championship. Roy Smyth leads this group.
The exit of this corner leads back onto the start and finish straight and when one crosses the finish line one has covered 1.53 miles during the lap.