“It is like the Banna Rally in New York,” says West Kerry co-driver Kenneth Quirke
A New York-based West Kerry co-driver has described how the Irish motorsport community in America came together to save the national rally championship.
Last weekend marked the first running of the New York Forest Rally.
It was organised, in less than six weeks, by Irish rally enthusiasts based mainly in Yonkers and Nyack.
American rallying is, all but, dominated by Irish drivers.
Monaghan native Barry McKenna and his Donegal co-driver Leon Jordan were earlier this month, crowned the American Rally Association National Champions.
McKenna also runs a rally preparation firm and could run anything up to ten cars, for Irish or American drivers, on events.
When the Irish in America, particularly McKenna and his crew, heard that the penultimate round of the ARA series, the Lake Superior Pro Rally, would not run last weekend they set about organising a replacement.
The result was Saturday’s Rally New York Forest Rally. Based in Monticello, about two hours’ drive from New York City and run over roads that were previously used on the now discontinued Empire State Rally and Rally New York.
The organising team was made of Irish Americans. The 45-strong entry list was nearly full of Irish drivers and co-drivers.
Among them was Camp native Kenneth Quirke who was on co-driving duties for Bantry’s Con O’Sullivan.
“There are more and more Irish lads getting involved in rallying over here in the last few years,” he said. “To run this rally was a great way of bringing everyone together towards the end of a year of ups and downs. It’s great to see so many cars being pulled out of sheds all across the State, and even the country, to compete in a rally that has potential to be one of the most anticipated rallies of the year, especially being the local rally. Barry McKenna does not do things by half measures. This was a credit to him and his whole crew.”
Quirke likened the end of year event with the famous Kerry Winter Rally – or the Banna Rally – a traditional end of season event and party.
“It reminds me a bit like the Banna rally run by Kerry Motor Club,” he added. “An end of the year, local rally, to have one last blast before the winter. An opportunity to compare times with other local lads and break balls once the rally is over.”