Following the recent announcement that Irwindale has cancelled its 2012 racing calendar and surrounding uncertainty surrounding the venue, I couldn’t help but draw some similarities from a couple of years ago when we lost our own House of Drift.
Although its official title is Tipperary Motor Speedway, it has always been best known as Rosegreen – named after the small Tipperary village it’s located near. Asides from being the only purpose built oval circuit in the Republic of Ireland, Rosegreen was the birthplace of Irish drifting.
Rosegreen was where many of the most successful Irish drifters cut their teeth – from Falken Tire’s own Darren ‘D-Mac’ McNamara in his FC RX7 …
… along with Eric O’Sullivan …
… and Dean ‘Karnage’ Kearney to name but a few.
As the talent of the Prodrift grid expanded, the layout of the circuit evolved to incorporate the outside oval. Although it may look harmless enough, the Rosegreen wall has claimed many victims over the years and the track required a lot of skill and bravery from any driver who attempted to master it.
May 5th 2008 saw the last ever drifting event to be held at Rosegreen. Although it was only the second round of the 2008 Prodrift Ireland Series, everyone involved in the sport knew it would be a landmark day for Irish drifting.
With the event kicking off early on the Sunday morning, a full grid of pro class drivers prepared to do battle one more time.
Every driver out there wanted to be the one that won the last event at Rosegreen.
For me personally, the 2008 season was the peak of Irish drifting. By the time 2009 rolled around, the effects of the financial crisis were beginning to be felt and we all know how things have been affected since.
It’s strange for me looking back at these images. Rosegreen was where I and many others learned our trade.
I have some great memories from there and I only wish that I could have shared them with you as they happened back in the day.
The ambition of any driver who ever drove the ‘Pro’ layout was to rub the outside wall before transitioning onto the infield. The resulting paint marks and scratches were worn as a badge of honour.
Hitting the wall however, was not encouraged.
For a small track (I think it was a 1/3 of a mile oval) it was deceptively fast.
It rewarded accuracy and punished those who became a little bit over confident.
The twin battles were especially competitive and many a time if a driver was put under enough pressure, they ended up in the wall. Let me reassure you, the wall wouldn’t move an inch.
It has obviously been quite a while since the event so I’m not 100% on the details of the day so you’ll have to excuse my vagueness.
I do remember however, that nobody wanted the day to end.
The dark and the cold that had begun to creep in, had no impact on the atmosphere as the final battle took place.
His older brother Mike won the first drift event held here in 2003, so it was fitting then that James Deane would win the last ever drift event to take place on the Tipperary tar.
James also won his first event at Rosegreen so I’m certain that he more than anyone appreciated the significance of his win.
Watching the Prodrift staff taking the banners down one last time, I couldn’t help but be stirred by the importance of what we had witnessed. Rosegreen was a special, special place.
I sincerely hope that something can be done to keep Irwindale Speedway alive. The drifting world has already lost one House of Drift, I pray that it doesn’t lose another.