It is 15 years since Joey Dunlop, the most successful rider in the history of the Isle of Man was killed when he crashed in Estonia while contesting a non-title international event on public roads on the outskirts of the capital, Tallinn.
The loss of Joey - on 2nd July, 2000 - belonged only to the Dunlop family and to Joey’s friends but also to the entire roadracing fraternity and to the whole of Ireland.
Fifteen years on the esteem with which Joey Dunlop is held by the public has not diminished, having been voted Northern Ireland’s Greatest Sports Star ever at the start of the year, a sign that this quiet and modest man will never be forgotten.
You only have to say the name Joey to any true bike fan in almost any part of the world and they will know instantly who you are talking about.
Not some here-today-gone-tomorrow, manufactured ‘superstar’ with an ego to match their pay-cheque, but a quiet, shy part-time publican from Ballymoney.
Those closest to Joey, his wife Linda and children Richard, Gary, Donna, Joanne and Julie, share their special and personal memories of him, however, they are continually amazed that the general public from the man on the street to road racing fans still talk about him and love him as much today as they did in his racing heyday.
BBC sports pundit Liam Beckett commented: “In my opinion Joey Dunlop was the greatest road racer ever.
“Despite the fact we lost him 15 years ago, he is still thought about and talked about as much now as ever. I have just returned from the Isle of Man and the TT and everywhere you go people are talking about him and he is held in such high esteem.
“His achievements as a road racer are reveered amongst the road racing fraternity and its a testiment to what he achieved on the island that 15 years later his record of 26 TT wins still hasn’t been broken.”
As another anniversary of the passing of this legend is marked it seems apt to leave the final words to the man himself.
“I never really wanted to be a superstar. I just want to be myself. I hope that’s how people remember me.” We certainly do Joey
n See page 53 for an interview with Joey’s daughter Donna McLean