Exclusive: Joey Dunlop's family issues plea for return of 'highly sentimental' items belonging to five-time world champion
The family of Ulster road racing legend Joey Dunlop has issued an appeal for items belonging to the five-time Formula 1 world champion to be returned.
Joey’s son, Gary, told the News Letter the family hadn’t given up hope that one of the 26-time Isle of Man TT winner’s F1 championship medals – stolen from Joey’s Bar in Ballymoney – and a necklace the 48-year-old was wearing at the time of his fatal crash in Estonia in 2000, would be retrieved.
Gary explained that his father was wearing a pendant in the shape of a motorcycle helmet on a gold chain at the time of his tragic death, which occurred almost 19 years ago at a race meeting in Tallinn. The necklace has been missing ever since.
One of Joey’s F1 world championship medals was also taken from the family after disappearing from behind the bar over 25 years ago.
Although Gary admits the likelihood of the items finding their way back to the family is remote, he hopes a public plea may reach the conscience of someone who knows the whereabouts of the missing property, which is of extremely high sentimental value to the Dunlop family.
Gary said ‘no questions would be asked’ if the items are ever returned.
“We were talking recently about Dad’s things that went missing and I just know by my Mum how much she would love to get them back, especially his necklace,” he said.
“When Dad was killed in Estonia, he was wearing a chain with a pendant in the shape of a helmet on it. It had some information on it, like his blood type, so it was basically his ‘dog tag’ really.
“It never came home and we always wanted to know what happened to it.
“Obviously, the chances of ever getting it back aren’t great, but it does no harm to put it out there anyway. The family would dearly love to have these things back because obviously they have a lot of sentimental value to us.”
Gary has also appealed for the return of his father’s F1 world championship medal, which was taken from the family bar more than two decades ago when Joey was still alive.
“One of Dad’s F1 medals was stolen from the bar. It must have happened over 25 years ago and it’s never been found. Dad was still alive at the time and he was annoyed about it obviously,” Gary said.
“There’s a chance that whoever took it has passed away and maybe the medal has been handed down through other family members.
“If anyone has it and it’s on their conscience and they want to give it back, I can promise that no questions will be asked. We would just be delighted to have it back.
“It could be just left into the bar or posted to us, but if someone comes forward there will be no hassle and nothing will be said about it.
“There was a time when a photo went missing in the eighties and it had been taken by someone after they’d had a few pints,” he added.
“The person later felt guilty about it and brought it back, and there was nothing said. It’s not the first time that things have gone missing from the bar.
“It’s worth a try and I know how much it would mean to Mum if we got the stuff back.”