The Tourist Trophy Races

The TT Races took place on the Newtownards-Comber-Dundonald circuit from 1928 to 1936

From 1928 to 1936, the Tourist Trophy (TT) Races took place on the Newtownards-Comber-Dundonald circuit in Co Down.

Northern Ireland’s most outstanding sporting event at the time, it regularly attracted crowds in excess of a quarter of a million people. A large notice board kept the crowd up to date with the race leaders, and the first driver to complete 30 laps of the circuit was the winner.

Car bonnets were painted different colours to denote the car's class. A handicapping system was implemented according to which different cars completed credit laps or ballasts.

At the first race in 1928, 44 cars lined up for the 12pm start. Admission to the stand was 25 shillings for numbered and reserved seats, and 15 shillings for unumbered ones. This inaugural race was won by Dublin born Kaye Don. Don’s time of 5hrs 58mins and 13 secs saw him finish with an average lap time of 103.09kmph, some 13 seconds ahead of Leon Cushmann, who ran out of petrol as he crossed the line!

September 5, 1936, saw the first ever female entrants, but sadly also a tragic end to the TT races. In wet conditions, Jack Chambers lost control of his Riley and crashed into the crowd, killing eight spectators. The race did continue with most of the spectators unware of what had happened, but this tragedy brought an end to nine years of glorious racing over the Ards road circuit.
© Darren Taylor,