William Joseph "Joey" Dunlop
- 48 years old
- Born Feb 25, 1952
- Died Jul 02, 2000
His achievements include three hat-tricks at the Isle of Man TT meeting (1985, 1988 and 2000), where he won a record 26 races in total. During his career he won the Ulster Grand Prix 24 times. In 1986 he won a fifth consecutive TT Formula One world title.
He was awarded the MBE in 1986 for his services to the sport, and in 1996 he was awarded the OBE for his humanitarian work for children in Romanian orphanages. Dunlop would often load up his race transporter and deliver clothing and food to the trouble spots of Bosnia and Romania. His humanitarian work was done without drawing attention to himself.
One less well known aspect of Dunlop's life was his tireless work for charity. He made endless trips to Romania, bring vanloads of aid to orphans and their carers in that country. These were undertaken mostly by Dunlop himself on condition that it would take place before each racing season started. Dunlop stated that his proudest award was his OBE for charity rather than any achievement in his very successful racing career.
On 31 December 2009 Joey Dunlop was voted 3rd greatest Irish sportsperson ever.
In transit to the Isle of Man in the winter of 1985/86 Joey Dunlop was aboard the M.F.V. Tornamona; a vessel departing from the County Down port of Strangford. Dunlop and other riders were aboard with several bikes and equipment for the TT Races when the Tornamona struck St. Patrick’s Rock and lost its rudder. After losing her rudder she veered off course spearing into St. Angus Rock where it sank. All the members aboard were rescued by the Portaferry Lifeboat. Diving efforts recovered the bikes shortly after.
Joey Dunlop died in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2000 while leading a 125cc race (he had already won the 750cc and 600cc events) on Pirita-Kose-Kloostrimetsa Circuit. He appeared to lose control of his bike in the wet conditions and was killed instantly on impact with trees. As a mark of respect, the Estonian government's official website was replaced with a tribute to Dunlop within hours of his death. Northern Ireland television carried live coverage of his funeral. Fifty thousand mourners, including bikers from all parts of Britain and Ireland and people from all backgrounds in N. Ireland, attended the funeral to Garryduff Presbyterian church and his burial in the adjoining graveyard.
The most successful overall rider at the annual TT races is awarded the "Joey Dunlop Cup". A memorial statue was erected in his home town of Ballymoney. On the Isle of Man, a statue of Dunlop astride a Honda overlooks the Bungalow Bend at Snaefell and the 26th milestone area of the TT course has been renamed "Joey's". Irish publishers The O'Brien Press published a full-colour pictorial tribute to Joey following his death. Northern Ireland band Therapy? made a song in memory of Dunlop, called Joey; it appeared on the album Shameless, released in 2001.
Throughout his career Dunlop remained apolitical and anti-sectarian. Both Catholics and Protestants supported him. Highly superstitious, he always wore a red T-shirt and a yellow crash helmet.
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