To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the first TT race on the Newtonards Circuit in 1928, a long-awaited memorial stone was unveiled by the mayor, in the town’s Conway Square. Commissioned by the Ulster Vintage Car Club, and supported by the local authority, donations from enthusiasts all over the world contributed to the black marble sculpture by Italian artist Francesco Scianna. Its triangular shape reflects the shape of the Ards circuit which was once the venue for nine TT races, the last in 1936. The downfall of the circuit was sealed following a fatal accident in which eight spectators lost their lives and many more were seriously injured. Straw bales and twine were no match for the Riley of J Chambers, after it lost control under the railway bridge near the Regent Street left-hander. Attracting excellent competition in its nine-year history, drivers such as Kaye Don, Rudi Caracciola, Tazio Nuvolari, and Freddie Dixon took the honors. A map of the circuit together with tributes to the winners, and those who lost their lives, are etched into the surfaces of the edifice serving as a permanent reminder of the town’s contribution to motor sport history.
By Mike Jiggle