Ballymena NI - Recreation Grounds

Ballymena Showgrounds : BT43 7DP
The cement track at Ballymena Showground was Ireland's only hard track in the 1890's and held many national meetings. Harry Reynolds, known as the Balbriggan Flyer, raced there in the early 1900's, Reynolds was the one mile world track champion in 1896.

One of the biggest cycle meetings in Ireland took place at Ballymena on July 12th 1900, where J Platt-Betts lowered the one mile Irish motor paced record to 1m 37.8s. Whilst breaking this record, he also beat the flying quarter, half and three quarter miles records. He later returned to the track and beat the ten miles record with 17m 51.8. Harry Reynolds defeated FW Chinn of Birmingham, the professional champion, in the one mile scratch race. JW Stocks, the racing cyclist who retired in 1895 and then raced motorcycles, rode in an exhibition 11 miles motor tricycle trial.

The Red Hand Trophy (previously known as the Lancashire`s Lemon Soda Cup) was presented to Ballymena's Red Hand Cycling Club in 1896 and raced for on the Showground track, it was first won by FJ McCann in July 1896. The trophy was in the possession of Ballymena RC.

The track was very popular in the 1940's, Friar McAleese is reported to have organised sports meeting at the Showgrounds and Shrigley Park. The friar had to roll the cycle track and mark out the race lanes, he used to borrow a horse and roller to carry out this task. The sports attracted competitors from all over Northern Ireland.


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