A trial in the morning followed by lunch and an afternoon scramble - that’s how Boxing Day panned out in the 1930s for the Ards Motocycle Club.
It really was a blast from the past as the diehards of the Ards Club celebrated their 75th anniversary at the weekend.
Club treasurer Jim Jackson scaled the archives to reveal that Boxing Day was unique. He explained: “There was a trial in the morning followed by dinner at Caffolas and then the same riders returned to the Lead Mines for a scramble in the afternoon.”
In many ways that was probably the forerunner to endurance racing!
Jackon added: “The club was formed in 1937 when 17 local motorcyclists got together in Moore’s garage in the town to form a club.
“The prime goal was to cater for the rider who was not blessed with an unceasing flow of cash and secondly, to ban the use of competition tyres.
“By 1939 and the outbreak of the war, the membership had risen to over 100, a number we still have today. Back then the membership cost seven shillings and sixpence which is equivalent to 37.5p, and it’s only £5 today!”
By 1938/39 the club had promoted 11 events including five trials and three grass-track meetings. During that period several members had to give up their machines to the army.
“There is nothing written about this in the records but I remember stories about the club-members who joined the Home Guard as dispatch riders. War-time training involved, would you believe it, trials!”
After the war the Club promoted short circuit racing in the grounds of Bangor Castle as well as Kirkistown while the famous July 13 grass-track meetings were followed by motocross events over what is now Blackwood golf course at Clandeboye.
By the late 1970s gone were the days when one bike could be used for two or three disciplines.
Bertie Mann was a fine example doing precisely that.
One week he would have been winning a short circuit race at Lurgan Park and the following week he scrambled on the very same Dot machine.
Mann was a unique character. Not only was he a top class competitor but his administration abilities put the professionals to shame.
No wonder the Bertie Mann meritorious trophy is a much sought after accolade. Last year’s winner was Andrew Irwin who is hoping to join the British 600 Superstock ranks for 2013.