With the Isle of Man TT coming up in a week, it is the perfect time to pause and remember the greatest motorcycling legend this event has ever produced
William Joseph Dunlop, referred to throughout the sport as “Joey”, was as much a philanthropist as he was a motorcycling icon. His achievements include three hat-tricks at the Isle of Man TT and winning a record 26 races in total in a career spanning three decades. He also won the Ulster Grand Prix 24 times and won a fifth consecutive TT Formula One world title in 1986.
Joey Dunlop was less known for his tireless charity work, which was exactly the way he wanted it – in complete anonymity and free from the glare of the spotlights. He made endless trips to Romania, bringing in truck loads of aid to various orphanages in order to help build their careers and there country. Dunlop stated that his proudest award which he was bestowed upon was his OBE for charity rather than all his amazing achievements in his very successful racing career. On 31 December 2009 Joey Dunlop was voted 3rd greatest Irish sportsperson ever.
Joey Dunlop died in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2000 while leading a 125cc race on the Pirita Kose Kloostrimetsa Circuit. He had lost control of his bike in the wet conditions and was killed instantly on impact with trees. Irish publishers The O’Brien Press published a full colour pictorial tribute to Joey following his death.
A memorial statue was erected in his home town of Ballymoney, And on the Isle of Man, a statue of Dunlop astride a Honda overlooking the Bungalow Bend at Snaefell. The 26th milestone area of the TT course has been renamed “Joey’s”. Northern Ireland band Therapy made a song in memory of Dunlop, called Joey. The most successful overall rider at the annual TT races is awarded with the “Joey Dunlop Cup.”
The Isle of Man TT this year starts on 26th May. Stay tuned for more updates on one of the few surviving and the greatest, most challenging ever road race.