An article from The Cape Breton Post
September 20, 2005
Headline: Island Gears up to Host International Motorcycle Racing
By T.J. Colello
ALBERT BRIDGE - An international motorcycle race with nearly a century of history will make its way to Cape Breton in September 2006.
The Cape Breton Festival of Speed, an international motor sports festival, will host a world-class motorcycle race tied to an event called the Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy). The event has taken place on the tiny island of 56,000 people, located in the Irish Sea, for the past 97 years.
"They were approached by a committee, including myself and we asked if they had any interest in coming to North America with their event," said Louisbourg native Harold MacKay, director of marketing for the race, who is also at the reins of the fledgling Canadian Elite Hockey League.
The island's government puts on the Isle of Man TT each year and jumped on board to bring the race to the international stage.
"Over there, motorcycle racing is like hockey to us, it's very important. The guys who win the TT are like the Wayne Gretzky's of the world," said MacKay.
Described as the "sister event" of the TT to be held in Cape Breton, Sept. 20-24, 2006, the race will run its course on a 52-kilometre route.
The route will run from the Louisbourg Highway at the Hornes Road turnoff, towards Sydney to Morrison Road, through Birch Grove and Port Morien along Highway 255, through Mira Gut and finally, back up Hornes Road for the home stretch.
The bikes will go around the route up to six times, depending on the classification of the bikes racing. MacKay, as well as director of safety and track organization Terry Dale, have been meeting with residents this week to discuss concerns they have about the event. The meetings began Monday in Port Morien, continued Tuesday in Albert Bridge, with a third tonight at the Birch Grove Community Centre at 7 p.m.
"I've been pleasantly surprised - everyone has been very supportive," said MacKay. "They had the obvious questions about safety and we reassured them that Terry Dale is an international safety co-ordinator sanctioned to do Formula 1 races and NASCAR races. "That's one thing we're not going to go easy on. The safety will be there in spades."
MacKay said along with economic benefits for the area, an enhanced roadway for the route will be a must. He said government has assured road improvements will be made for the specified route.
"The TT is an international event that happens in Europe and it's going to happen over here, so it's a first in North America," he said. "This is meant to attract people from all over North America and Europe to come to Cape Breton, so it's going to be a big event.
"The competitors will be at the highest level you can get."
A public announcement with more details on the race will be held during a press conference, Oct. 5