2022 Officials, Kenny Loughrin , Director, Hon Treasurer & PRO

Kenny Loughrin; Director, Hon Treasurer & PRO To most of those who attend road races or short circuit events for that matter, they think ‘It just happens!’ and this is, unfortunately, the downside of the sport, so many just want to turn up, spectate and go home! Now wouldn’t just be so good, if we could do just that! but NO, we live in a materialistic world, and one person who has seen, or should I say overseen a lot of changes over the years within the club, is the current Hon Treasurer and PRO for the Cookstown & District MCC, Kenny Loughrin. Born and reared in Orritor, within walking distance of the current circuit, Kenny followed into the sport, as many others have, thanks to their father's involvement. Moore Loughrin was a long-standing figure in the club, having been an assistant chief marshal from 1947 to and including 1976, an amazing 29 years in that position. Unlike the set-up of today's road racing, in years gone by, the organizing club would delegate assistant chief marshals, who in turn would oversee a section of the course, normally, each marshal would take a ‘Mile’, and they, in turn, organized their won flag personnel, first aid, etc, this was the norm for many years. As a youngster, Kenny would travel to the national and international road races with his father and Billy Crooks, and would also be helping in race week, and on race day, his dad would have got him doing some job or other! Quite often, this was a job marshalling at Clare Bridge (Grange Circuit) For most young inspiring youngsters, the week before the big event was an experience to behold, and if you were seen helping, you felt that you were part of the event itself. When his father decided to give up his Assistant Chief marshal post after the 1976 races, Kenny took over his mantle and continued until 1992, when changes were implemented by the MCUI, with regards to Marshalling, etc By this time, the circuit had moved to Sherrygrim, and, along with Wilfred Murphy, they would have looked after the section from Eccles Farm, up to Sherrygrim crossroads, down to Donaghey corner few years before this, Kenny, like fellow members, would also be involved in a second job within the club, this time a job, which would see him, remain in, up to, and including this very special 100th Anniversary year, 2022! It was in 1987, that a young Kenny was voted in as Assistant Treasurer to work alongside Treasurer Billy (WJ) Ferguson. No doubt, his time with Billy was served well, as he was promoted to Hon Treasurer in 1988, a job, that he has held with pride ever since! and if that wasn’t enough, he also took on the job of assistant race secretary from 1999, to and including 2002, and not forgetting, has also been a delegate to the MCUI(UC) for several years, and has also sat on the MCUI(UC) Finance committee for many years, before resigning from his post in 2021 Having worked as Deputy finance controller in the local Blue Circle company, now better known as Lafarge, and later as Deputy Stores controller in the local Cheese Factory, and now as Calendar salesperson with Gortreagh Printing company, its fair to say, Kenny has had the right jobs that would hand in hand with treasurer work. Along with keeping the club afloat, with up-to-date figures at each monthly club meeting, Kenny also plays an important part in the making up of the race programme, where income from advertising plays a very important part, this can be a monotonous job, with constant running throughout the year, the same goes, for negotiating with possible would be, and current race sponsors, both can be very time-consuming tasks. This along with keeping in touch with the neighbourhood around the circuit, talks with the local council, and various other parties throughout the year, not forgetting, acts PRO for the club, it's fair to say Kenny is kept busy. Reflecting over the years, it has been hard work trying to keep the club in good financial shape, it takes so much to put a national road race over, Try telling the ordinary punter, it costs 120k to put the race meeting over, and he won't believe you! Thankfully, we have a nice tight hard-working wee club, we have had a few years when things didn’t go our way, with bad weather, etc, cancellation at Sherrygrim in 1985??, and only a few years ago, we had a weather warning at the start of the week, and it put people off from coming, yet, at the race, we had a great day weatherwise, but the harm was done, and very few people turned up, this, in turn, saw a very poor return in program sales, and when figures totted up, the club was down, just under £20k! This was indeed a major loss, and the club certainly would not have been able to sustain another year like that! Thankfully, we were able to get our heads together and find a way forward, that being in the form of a ‘Closed Event’, where you could only gain entry with Wristband and race programme, which had to be booked online before the race. It's just a pity no one had thought of this year ago, because, it could have been the saving of road racing in Ireland! However, it's a new precedent, a new way forward, already proved by other clubs, and it has also made things much easier for me in many ways! Over the years, a lot of time was lost, as I was constantly on the run Friday and Saturday, collecting car park money, chasing after programme sellers, etc, now, the Programme sales are complete before the race meeting. One only must look back over the past few years to see how things have panned out, in 2018, the circuit was packed with spectators, we just about broke even! 2019, the weather forecast at beginning of the week, wasn’t good, it put a lot of people off from attending, yet on the day, we only had a couple of light showers! but the harm was done, and due to the downfall in spectators, and fewer programmes sales, we lost almost £20k. 2020, And the new look Cookstown 100, Closed Event, only one way into the circuit, admission, via Wrist Band and Race programme only! worked a treat, Due to Covid restrictions for 2020, we were only allowed a limited number of spectators, nevertheless, the club was able to make a small profit. Last year, we were allowed a few more spectators, and, despite fewer spectators than we had in 2018, we were able to show more profits! The biggest problem with road race spectators nowadays, is, that they need to be educated to pay! for too long, it's been a free show, their days are gone now! what show do you get for free nowadays there will always be those who will complain about paying, but it's got to a stage now, if they don’t want to pay, it's their loss, Let's hope this fresh idea will be the saviour of national road racing. Away from the unseen side of the job, Kenny has also some fantastic memories of the Cookstown 100, one race that sticks out in his mind was, the final race of the day, the Feature race, with Philip McCallen on the RC30 Honda and Paul Cranston on the 500 Starplan Yamaha, McCallen took the win, but to see a local rider take it to McCallen for the duration of the race was a joy to watch. We look back over the years, but I reckon we have seen the best of road racing, it's not a sport anymore, in a way, the fun has gone out of it, it’s now more hassle in many ways, but whatever is thrown at us, we somehow still want to continue! In 2015, the Cookstown 100 Volunteers won the ‘Services to Sport Award’, organized by the local Rotary Club, and in 2020, scooped another prestigious award, when they collected the ‘Services to Sport’ Award at the Cornmarket Awards, both these awards mean a lot to everyone involved! “As I look forward to the 2022 Cookstown 100, I do so with much satisfaction and a huge sense of achievement that the club is celebrating its centenary. There have been many ups and downs over the years, but to be the first Motorcycle Club in Northern Ireland to be in existence for 100 years is very Special. Looking back over the 40 plus years I have been in the club, I have many fond memories, I have met and became friends with people from far and near, People I might not have met if it wasn’t for the racing. However sadly, over the years, a number of those friends are no longer with us, and they have left a void that will never be filled. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those members of the club, both past, and present, who voluntarily gave up their time and efforts over the years to make the Cookstown 100 such a successful, and popular event that it is today. I would also like to Thank ALL Sponsors who have put adverts in the race programme, without their continued generosity, it would have been impossible for the race to survive. Finally, as I prepare to step down from my role within the club, I would like to thank the residents on the course & my neighbours who have helped in any way to make the race such a special event. I am proud to be part of the Cookstown & District Motor Cycle Clubs History.” Kenny Loughrin

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