MG TD, built from 1949-53, pictured in Conway Square Newtownards ,18th August 2008. Along with many other vintage classics gathered together to commemorate the Ards TT, first held in 1928. The race was the culmination of much thought and enthusiasm by two men. One was the legendary Harry Ferguson and the other was Wallace McLeod. Wallace was head of the motor engineering school at the Belfast Tech. The men were helped in their dream by the fact that (unlike the rest of the British Isles) the law in Ulster enabled roads to be closed off for motor racing. In 1927 the two men visited a race at Brooklands and persuaded some of the drivers that, if they could find a suitable Ulster road circuit, then they would participate. The venue was found and the six hour race was organised under the auspices of the Royal Automobile Club.
The circuit was in the form of a triangle 13.7 miles in total. The race started at the pits on the Newtownards Road Dundonald , and there still is a little commemorative building at that spot to mark the location. The cars then set off towards Newtownards via Quarry Corner then up and over Bradshaw’s Brae and into Conway Square, Newtownards .
There are still marks on the masonry made by the cars as they clipped the corner into the square, now a pedestrian precinct.
The eventual winner of the first race in 1928 was Kaye Don ’s Lea Francis.
At its peak the Ards TT attracted over a half a million spectators.
The Ards TT race continued very successfully each year until 1936 when one of the competing cars crashed at Newtownards killing eight spectators and injuring 40 others. The Ards TT was never held again.
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