NW200 Programme Timeline

Organised by the City of Derry and District Motor Club and originally planned for the roads of Londonderry, the first NW200 was relocated to the North Coast and held on 20th April 1929 where it has remained for over 90 years


The International North West 200 is Ireland’s largest outdoor sporting event and one of the fastest road races. The name is an indication of the distance of 200 miles in which the race covers along the North-West of Ireland. During 1929 when the first race began, the NW200 was not as popular as it is today and did not even have a dedicated racetrack. Despite this, officials of the Ulster Grand Prix supported The Derry and District Motor Club, who organised and ran the event at the time, and saw potential and promise in what they were trying to create. However, in 1939, the last race was held before the outbreak of World War II, causing the NW200 to temporarily halt. The images seen here were the Official Souvenir Programmes and Illustrated Guides from 1930, 1934, 1936 and 1939.

From 1940-1946 there were no races for the NW200. However, in 1947 the races resumed on the Triangle circuit despite a shortage in fuel and tyres. This lack of supplies caused the 1948 race to be cancelled however the organisers of the event boosted their efforts to ensure that the race commenced again for the 20th Anniversary in 1949 which saw to most entries so far for a race in the NW200. The images on this page show the Official Souvenir Programme for the 1947 and 1949 races.


During the 1950s, the NW200 continues to grow in popularity from both the public and racers a like. 1957 also recorded the first 100mph lap of the Triangle circuit by racer Jack Brett, allowing him to receive first place for the 500cc race that year. Furthermore, 1954 saw the Silver Jubilee for the NW 200, marking the 25th Anniversary for the event. Both images on this page show the celebration of 25th Anniversary with the Official Programme Silver Jubilee Edition on the left and an Illustrated Magazine of the First 25 Years of the NW200 on the right.

In 1964, the NW200 was passed over to the Coleraine and District Motor Club who still run the event today. The image at the top left-hand corner shows the start of the 350cc race in 1965 with racers such as No. 83 Len Ireland and No. 50 John Cooper. Below this, is an image of the Motor Cycle News newspaper from May 1968.

This photograph was taken at the finish line from the 350cc race in 1965 with Ian McGregor in 1st place, John Cooper in 2nd place and Len Ireland in 3rd place. In addition, the plaque seen to the right was the winner’s plaque for the 1960 350cc race at the NW200 with Alan Shepherd achieving 1st place. Finally, the image below the plaque shows another Official Souvenir Programme for 1969 NW200.

Winners Plaque 1960


Winners Plaque 1970

The 1970s saw many achievements for the NW200 and its racers. In 1971, saw the last race along the length of the Portstewart promenade, which was the original circuit of the race. Then in 1973, the start and finish moved between Juniper Hill and Millbank Avenue which is where the race continues today. Furthermore, in 1974, John Williams the 350cc, 500cc and the 750cc, becoming the first racer to record a hat-trick. In addition, Ray McCullough and Tony Rutter had the only dead heat in the history of the event as they crossed the finish line at the same time during the 350cc race in 1977. Moreover, in 1978, Tom Herron set the fastest lap ever in the NW200 so far reaching a speed of 127.63mph. Finally, 1979 was the Golden Jubilee of the NW200 marking 50 years since the event began in 1929 and saw Joey Dunlop win his first race on the Triangle circuit.

The images on the left and right-hand side of the page show the Official Programme for the years 1989 (left) and 1981 (right).

In the 1980s, the NW200 continued to grow and sae the rise of the Dunlop brothers Robert and Joey. In 1986, Robert Dunlop recorded his first win in the NW200 at the 350cc race. A year later in 1987, Joey Dunlop won both the Superbike races and the 750cc production race scoring another hat-trick of wins. Then in 1988, Joey Dunlop took his last victory ever at the NW200, winning the 750cc Production race. The photograph in the middle shows Joey Dunlop on his bike during the 80s decade.

The 1990s saw many wins for Robert Dunlop with him recording a hat-trick of wins for both the Superbike races and the 125cc in 1990. He also scored his third hat-trick winning a 125cc races and two 250cc races in 1993. Then in 1994, he achieved his first international victory for the Superbike race with his Honda RC45. The image in the top left-hand corner was the front cover of the Belfast Telegraph showing Joey Dunlop in the early 90s reading “Northern Ireland’s Greatest Ever Sports Star”. In addition, Phillip McCallen was the only racer in the NW200 to win five races in a day for the 400cc, 600cc, 250cc and both Superbike races. McCallen then went on to win his 11th and final NW200 race in 1997. Moreover, the bottom right image shows the 1999 Coca-Cola programme showing the famous sponsors that the event was receiving and also how it had grown in popularity.

The 2000s saw the rise and achievements of many other racers including Michael Rutter who won the 600cc race and both Superbike races in 2000. Furthermore, Bruce Anstey made rode his first in 2002, setting pole position and winning the Production race. In 2004, Ian Lougher won the 125cc race for the fifth successive year and also saw Michael Rutter make history by becoming the first rider to go through the speed trap at over 200mph. Furthermore, in 2006, Steve Plater won both Superbikes, eleven years after his first race in 1995. Robert Dunlop also achieved his 15th victory which marked his final win at the NW200 as he later lost his life in a crash during a practise session in 2008. However, his legacy was passed down to his son Michael Dunlop who won the 250cc race less than 48 hours after his fathers passing.

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Joey Dunlop

In 2000, Joey Dunlop competed in his last ever NW200 meeting where he lined up in pole position for both Superbike races. However, on the 2nd of July 2000, Joey Dunlop tragically passed leading a 125cc race as he lost control of his bike due to wet conditions and was killed on impact. The images of here of Joey Dunlop are from postcards that were made in honour showing that his legacy still lived on in the race and throughout his family of inspiring racers.

Over the years you can see how the NW200 progressed from this motorcycle race in the north coast to end up being advertised all over Northern Ireland. Race week has now become a festival in the North Coast and is sponsored by many brands and companies. It brings a lot of tourism in Northern Ireland and helps a lot of local business. Recently in 2018 the son of late Robert Dunlop and the Nephew of late Joey Dunlop passed in a motorcycle accident. It is very tragic, but his legacy and his Fathers and Uncles lives on within the NW200. We hope you learned a lot from this experience and saw the progression in the NW200 over the decades. From when it started in 1929 as a smaller race with not a lot of sponsors to end up being this huge popular race in the North Coast.