By John Hopkins
SYDNEY, NS – A motorcycle road race in the classic tradition of the Isle of Man is slated for Canada next fall.
The Cape Breton Festival of Speed was unveiled at a press conference in Sydney, NS yesterday. The event, which will be headlined by a motorcycle race on a 52km road circuit, is due to run Sept. 20-23.
“This is such an important day in motorsports in Canada, and in particular in Nova Scotia,” said Maureen Carroll, chair of the Cape Breton Festival of Speed.
Present at the announcement were Isle of Man TT veteran Ian Lougher of Wales, Isle of Man Tourism Minister David Cretney and Canadian racer Pat Barnes, who tackled the fabled Isle of Man event in 2004.
“With some paving, these beautiful roads will offer a suitable challenge for some of the best riders in the world,” Lougher, a seven-time Isle of Man TT champion and the current Production 600 lap record holder, said in a press release accompanying the announcement.
“There are some fast stretches and the only things I don’t see which are part of the Isle of Man are the pubs around the circuit, which I’ll miss, and the stonewalls lining the roads, which I won’t miss. I definitely want to come back next year for the race.”
Lougher toured the track on Tuesday and said he expects it to be faster than the Isle of Man circuit. Barnes predicted a top speed of 210 mph.
“An Isle of Man style competition and the Festival of Speed will raise the profile of racing in Canada, giving more exposure to Canadian riders,” said Barnes in the release.
Practice for the Cape Breton Festival of Speed is slated for the Wednesday and Thursday of the race week (Sept. 20-21), with a motorcycle charity ride planned for the Friday. Race day is Saturday, Sept. 23, and the week will conclude with a “Show and Shine” for cars, trucks and motorcycles on Sunday.
The event is the brainchild of the Membertou First Nations community and Canadian car racer and event promoter John Graham. Bernd Christmas, CEO of the Membertou Development Corporation had been working with Graham on a separate project earlier this year when they hit upon the idea of a TT-style motorcycle race.
Graham traveled to the Isle of Man for this summer’s TT event along with Membertou Chief Terry Paul.
Yesterday’s press conference was held in the Membertou Trade & Convention Centre in Sydney.