ARMAGH Lions Festival of Motorsport burst into life on Saturday with recordbreaking crowds and participants, gathering in Loughgall Country Park.
With the sun shining from early morning and throughout the day, the Festival – now in it’s 11th successive year – welcomed new additions alongside established features.
The Rally Experience, organised and supervised by Chief Marshall Caroline McGuiness and her superb team, consisted of a full quota of drivers and cars, with engines running throughout the day. It was a bumper year for the Rally Experience with the highest number to date of participants taking the navigator seat for a thrilling spin on the newly extended stage.
The first car was official counted down by Deputy Lord Mayor Sam Nicholson, who sent off drivers with the chequered flag. He then jumped onboard the Philip Greenlee’s Ford Escort Mark II – which was only completed the night before the event – for a taste of his own rally experience. Later in the day Lord Mayor Gareth Wilson joined the fun and had a tour of the event before also taking the navigator seat for the rally experience.
Over at the static display, there was highest turn out of classic and vintages vehicles of all shapes and sizes, with proud owners meeting for a catch-up in the sunshine. Centrestage was this year’s focus feature – the Audi Quattro. Special editions mingled with prize possessions on the show field and just after lunch the Quattros completed a leisurely lap of honor around the rally stage.
Making a very welcome return was the Auto-Test Demonstration. Organised by the dynamic Norman Ferguson and his team, the thrilling display kept crowds enraptured with precision driving on a specially construction course, zooming forwards and backwards, halting at exact points, all with supreme car control.
Glow in the Park, the Festival’s signature show and shine event was organized by Mark Kelly and his team from JPCC who welcomed a huge array of competitors, all of whom were hard at work polishing to pristine perfection from early morning. The Top 10 cars on show collected awards, and the Overall Car in Show went to Coan Anderson and his beloved Vauxhall Nova. Coan was only married two days beforehand but was determined not to miss the show. He and his new bride set off on honeymoon next week, and it’s fair to say it was well worth while coming to the Festival, as it was double congratulations.
Armagh Lions President John Millar said: “This was a tremendous day. So many people, all with a love of motorsports, and all supporting our three very important causes – Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, Southern Area Hospice and NI Huntingtons Disease Association. Armagh Lions are indebted to all involved who gave their time freely and willingly, not to mention the members of the public who came along to the event.
“This event doesn’t just happen. It is months in the making and we rely so heavily on voluntary involvement. Thank you to everyone, in whatever capacity you assisted or attended. Large or small, your input is crucial to the success of the event and we simply cannot express our gratitude enough.”