Moto Media

13 years since we lost the greatest road racer of them all

Born 25 February 1952, Joey Dunlop died in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2000, whilst leading a 125cc race on the Pirita-Kose-Kloostrimetsa Circuit.  He had already won the 750cc and 600cc events and appeared to lose control of his bike in the wet conditions and was killed instantly on impact with trees. 

As a mark of respect, the Estonian government's official website was replaced with a tribute to Dunlop within hours of his death.

Northern Ireland television carried live coverage of his funeral. 50,000 mourners, including bikers from all parts of Britain and Ireland and people from all backgrounds in Northern Ireland, attended the funeral to Garryduff Presbyterian church and his burial in the adjoining graveyard.

Image opposite courtesy of Isle of Man TT   -

His achievements include three hat-tricks at the Isle of Man TT meeting (1985, 1988 and 2000), where he won a record 26 races in total.                                       

During his career he won the Ulster Grand Prix 24 times.   
In transit to the Isle of Man in the winter of 1985/86 Joey Dunlop was  aboard the M.F.V. Tornamona, a vessel departing from the County Down port of Strangford. Dunlop and other riders were aboard with several bikes and equipment for the TT Races when the Tornamona struck St. Patrick‚Äôs Rock and lost its rudder. After losing her rudder she veered off course spearing into St. Angus Rock where it sank. All the members aboard were rescued by the Portaferry Lifeboat. Diving efforts recovered the bikes shortly after.

In 1986 he won a fifth consecutive TT Formula One world title. 

In 1986 he was awarded the MBE for his services to the sport, and in 1996 he was awarded the OBE for his humanitarian work for children in Romanian orphanages, to which he had delivered clothing and food. This was one of the less well known aspect of Dunlop's life. He made endless trips to Romania, bringing vanloads of aid to orphans and their carers in that country. These were undertaken mostly by Dunlop himself on condition that it would take place before each racing season started. Dunlop stated that his proudest award was his OBE for charity rather than any achievement in his very successful racing career.

In 2005 he was voted the fifth greatest motorcycling icon ever by Motorcycle News.

In December 2009 Joey Dunlop was voted 3rd greatest Irish sportsperson ever.
The most successful overall rider at the annual TT races is awarded the "Joey Dunlop Cup".

A memorial statue was erected in his home town of Ballymoney.

On the Isle of Man, a statue of Dunlop astride a Honda overlooks the Bungalow Bend at Snaefell and the 26th milestone area of the TT course has been renamed "Joey's".

Irish publishers The O'Brien Press published a full-colour pictorial tribute to Joey following his death.

 Throughout his career Dunlop remained apolitical and anti-sectarian. Both Catholics and Protestants supported him. Highly superstitious, he always wore a red T-shirt and a yellow crash helmet.

Joey Dunlop's bio information courtesy of Wikipedia plus the image below.

Joey Dunlop on Bray Hill in the 1992 TT