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.
Il never forget that day either, blistering sun and hot competition. Remember being amazed with how close martin french got to the wall. The m3 crash was right in front of me too. Also the epic final at the end, sun going down and the sound of an sr20 and m3 6pot door to door, It was definatley a fitting finale for the end of drifting in Rosegreen
That place scared the be jesus outta me every time I drove it, But i NEVER missed a drifting day there EVER, how could you when you knew at least a few people Would end up shortening there cars by at least a few inches, Remember David Quigley in the skyline? damian mulvey in the TDP car, Miguel Marini in the chaser, Martin French and Darren D mac in Practise when Frenchy Decided to try get out over the wall and ended up on his side over the barrier and hell what about johnny P against Buff When Johnny P decided to slide down the straight on his roof......DAYS THAT I WILL TAKE TO THE GRAVE WITH ME.
Good one Paddy, without doubt the home of Irish drifting. We all cut our teeth there, Prodrift as a drifting organisation learned how to run events, learned how to make drifting entertaining. The first time I ever watched a Drift event was in Rosegreen back in early 2003, I was there because my 7 year old son had persuaded me to take him,(It didnt take much persuasion, cars were involved) We watched cars drifting (and spinning a lot!) around the inner Kart track, to be fair it was poor, but at the same time I could see it had potential. That potential was realised very quickly as the sport developed at a staggering rate, and soon cars were on the outer oval rubbing the walls with the spectators only three feet away eating rubber. I firmly believe drifting in Ireland would never have developed to the level its at now if it wasnt for this track. The limited layout meant we had to find new ways to separate the drivers as their skill levels developed, early apex, late apex, run the wall here, transition there, more speed! Drivers, Mechanics, Marshals, and Judges, we all developed our skills there. How long would it have taken for the Sport to grow if we only had Mondello in the early days with its two corners? To answer the question, Rosegreen is still open to Hot Rods, just not to Drifting. A neighbour next to the track took the owners to Court on the grounds that the tyre noise was bothering his Horses. As it happened the Tracks original planning was for Hot Rods only and with a limited number of events a year, the track owners were well in breech of the original planning so the neighbour won his case. End of Drifting.
A local farm owner took the raceway to court claiming that the noise was affecting his animals. Rosegreen can only have official races as its on the planning permission and where drifting isnt an official motorsport it was stopped through the courts. The farmer said that drifting was too noisy but hotrods race there regularely and they are much louder. I know i live a mile away from there. What a patchthic person to stop such a brilliant thing. Such a waste of a great drift track.
@ Eurotras86 Track still operates. Just not for drifting. Why has been a topic of debate for ages now. Noise, neighbours etc etc. Personally i think drifting was the best thing that happened to that track.
Via photographing this place at the very start (when there was little big bhp japanese stuff in action) I got my first break in the modified / motorsport print media. Such an atmosphere and many a wild night in "the gleeson" i think it was in Cashel, some pub with great craic had by all :)
We lost a track near us, Race City in Calgary AB. Sucks when tracks close, leaves a ton of the guys with no where to go
So what exactly happened? Did they shut down the track, decide that they were done with drifting, demolish the track and build, a Chucky Cheese? Dont just leave us hanging like that. I want details!
We should get a petrolhead whip-around, and buy a few abandoned acres in Mayo, and build something special. Anyone got the number for NAMA?
And in a land before drifting i remember attending and watched a 16yr old DMAC ripping it up in his dad's purple fiat 127. How that place has changed many the life of a young irish man.
In my country we dont have a drift circuit. And you tear it appart? Please, move it to Bucharest, we dont mind. We even come there every day with our cars or just watch other do the MAGIC.
Sad day when the rosebowl closed its doors,il never forget my first and last time i went there,some great drivers and cars withnessed there. from bmeers and serrias with welded diffs to the first of the jap machinery,skylines,180's etc,,glad i withnessed it all
Maybe Round 7 of FD will be at Willow Springs.... Ahhh...who am I kidding, that's not going to happen.
I remember that last day all too well...8+ hours in the blistering uncharacteristic Irish summer sun. I was burned to a crisp and hungover as hell but my god what a day. Rosegreen evolved in such a short space of time , from just using the inner track where twin battles were fought by drivers in glorified field cars ,barely making it into second gear with cars a half lap apart as the track was so tight, we thought that two cars side by side would be madness . The first day we witnessed a proper twin battle which used nearly every spare inch of tarmac that rosegreen had to offer was mindblowing, with drivers in Japanese exotica pulling third or fourth gear drifts around the outer oval . Oh and one last memory ,you mentioned that the wall never budged an Inch .... And i thank my luck stars it never did , as i think on that last day a yellow E36 four door got a bit out of shape, coming off the turn 1 , and its rear end mounted the wall and skidded past us. A proper brown trouser moment