The Dunrod Circuit was located in Northern Ireland near the village of that name and only a few miles west of Belfast. It was used for the RAC Tourist Trophy race for sports cars from 1950-55 and also for the Ulster Trophy for Grand Prix cars from 1950-53. Motorcycle races were also held on the circuit and the Ulster Grand Prix for bikes is still run there. Here is Stirling Moss with a works Jaguar C-Type sporting his favorite “7” race number during the September 15, 1951 running of the famous “TT” which Moss would win, both overall and on handicap. Open road racing had been banned in England so motor racing depended largely on flat and open circuits on former airfields, but road racing remained legal in Norther Ireland where Dundrod represented an exceptional challenge for drivers. The handicap system was used to attract entries from the smaller classes of cars and to offer spectators two levels of finishing position.
Dundrod was roughly circular in shape with sweeping right and left hand turns and consisted of narrow roads, generally bordered by thick hedges as can be seen in the background to this photograph. A lap was about 7.4 miles and the Tourist Trophy in 1951 would be over some 320 miles or 43 laps, requiring close to four hours. The fastest lap in 1951 of 87 mph was set by Tony Rolt who finished third on the road and fourth on handicap in another C-Type which shows how fast the circuit was even at that time. It had been hoped that the new Aston Martin DB3, appearing at the last minute for practice in the hands of George Abecassis, would give the Jaguars some competition but it would not be the case as the car was retired with transmission failure..
The photograph above was probably taken at Tornagrough which was the last corner before the very tight Hairpin where this second closeup image was taken. From there the road ran through more right and left sweepers to the start/finish area. Overall, Dundrod was exceedingly dangerous with literally nowhere to go once a car was off the road. The first lap was often a source of accidents on the narrow road and 1951 was no exception with one driver involved being fatally injured. In 1955 three drivers were killed in accidents, again not long after the start. That became a compelling reason to move this premier British motor race back to England and safer venues.
The three works C-Types at Dundrod were the initial cars of this series. The car Moss is driving was scrapped by Jaguar after its return from the 1952 Le Mans race.
Photos by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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