Hickey’s dedication to grassroots motorsport

One of Killarney and District Motor Club’s longest-serving competing members has described the efforts he went to to support entry-level motorsport in the current pandemic times.

Like all sports, motorsport has suffered postponements and cancellations since March.

There was some hope of a return to normal through the months of September and early October when smaller club events were allowed go ahead behind closed doors.

While closed road rallying remains off the agenda for the foreseeable future, up until late last week events like autocross could go ahead.

An autocross is a short time trial, usually run in a quarry or other similar private lands. Competitors get three to four runs over a course that is usually less than one kilometre in length.

Autocross events are the polar opposite of the Rally of the Lakes for example which offers two-days of high-speed action over 120km of closed road stages.

In early October, Clare Motor Club got a Motorsport Ireland permit to run an autocross event behind closed doors, at Ballycumber, County Offaly.

John Hickey, who has been competing for 37 years, took on the eight hour round trip from his Headford home to compete in the event.

The Subaru Impreza driver’s reward – about 12 minutes of competitive driving.

“I left my house at 5am on a cold, dark winter morning for a four hour drive up to Ballycumber,” he told the Killarney Advertiser.

“It was the worst day that ever came, pouring rain all day. Most lads left after their first run, but I stayed soaking-wet, four hours from home. That is addiction to motorsport for you – in the middle of a pandemic. After 37 years of motorsport, I am spearheading the motorsport recovery.”

Since the Clare Motor Club’s event in early October, and before the latest COVID-19 measures were announced, Motorsport Ireland said it was suspending all motorsport activity until further notice.

As a result events cannot take place, even if they have national status or are run behind closed doors.

This article was originally published the October 23 issue of the Killarney Advertiser. Kerry Motorsport News is the motorsport content provider to the Killarney Advertiser

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