A former army barracks in Ballykelly will be transformed into a haven for motor sports this weekend for an event organisers claim has given a huge boost to the local economy.
Attracting competitors from as far away as New York, the Maiden City Motor Club (MCMC) Dogleap Tarmac Stages Rally takes place on Saturday at the massive ex-army base of Shackleton, which sits on more than 600 acres looking out over Lough Foyle.
For the last four years organisers have been working to persuade officials the venue was the perfect setting for such an event.
MCMC president, and Ballykelly man, Jon McIvor said since Stormont gave the green light in February, the committee has been working round the clock.
“Nobody would believe the amount work this has taken and the hours we have all put in,” he said.
The hard work, however, has been worth it, he says, with 110 competitors so far scheduled to compete in the almost five-mile stage.
“We have competitors from as far away as New York, to all over Ireland and Scotland,” he said.
“This is something we think could really put Ballykelly on the map. It’s definitely given a boost to the economy. Bed nights are booked in local hotels and it’s something we think we can really build on. “
The last motorsports event at the former barracks was four years ago “but we’d like to have this here at least once, if not twice a year”.
“It would bring money into the economy in the Limavady and Ballykelly area. It would also bring tourists into the area because there is big interest in motorsports in Donegal,” said Mr. McIvor.
The Ballykelly man says the former base was a huge part of village life and provides endless possibilities for sport.
“I remember Shackletons flying in here and kids of the RAF attending the primary school I went to here in the village,” he said.
“A lot of the locals had jobs here, and it was a big part of the village. It would be a shame for nothing to happen here. The is nothing over the Glenshane Pass for motor sports, and this site could also used for a range of sports. It’s a door just waiting to be opened. If the right people with the will get together we could have something brilliant. It’s a golden opportunity.”
With everything in place, Mr.McIvor, who will be Clerk of Course tomorrow, hopes the weather will be on their side.
“The weather would be the bonus ball if we can get it. It won’t affect competitors, but it would be nice for families to come and enjoy the day out.”
Mr. McIvor thanked local councillors, Limavady Council and club and committee members for their support.
He also thanked Eamon Doherty of River Ridge Recycling, the event’s main sponsor.
The rally starts at 10am on Saturday and access to the site will be sign posted via Broighter Road.
To find out more go to maidencitymotorclub.com where information and contacts for the event are listed.