Neil Robinson (motorcyclist)
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Neil "Smutty" Robinson (29 July 1962 Cullybackey, Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland - 13 September 1986 at Hull Royal Infirmary Hospital) was an exceptionally talented (and fearless) motorcycle track, circuit and road racer from Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Robinson died aged 24 during a practice session at Oliver's Mount racing circuit, Scarborough, North Yorkshire.
Robinson and his family were of Scottish descent like most of Cullybackey's (Protestant) residents.
In 1983, Robinson won the British 250cc Championship. In 1986, only 4 weeks prior to his untimely death, he made his indelible mark at the Ulster Grand Prix Formula 1 Race, by achieving an outstanding win, with him placed first, well ahead of the rest of the field. His major achievement on that day was his emphatic victory over his friend Joey Dunlop, who at that time was the newly crowned World Formula 1 Champion.
In 1986 Robinson caused a sensation with a commanding victory in the TT Formula 1 race, toppling the mighty Joey Dunlop to win by over one minute. Dunlop retained his world crown nonetheless and later added made amends with a record-breaking win in the TT Classic race, upping the outright lap record to 120.83 mph. Robinson retired with a blown engine.
Robinson was a close personal friend of both Joey and Robert Dunlop often travelling to races together. Joey would often help Robinson by passing on knowledge of particular circuits.
Robinson was on the threshold of what promised to be a brilliant international career when he became the 13th rider to die on the Oliver's Mount circuit at Scarborough. The twenty-four-year-old was racing at the circuit for the first time and crashed in dense undergrowth and trees on the uphill Quarry Hills section on his sixth lap of practice. He suffered head injuries and a broken leg, and died in the evening in Hull Royal Infirmary in Scarborough after being conveyed there by the racing circuit ambulance escorted by two police motorcycle outriders.
Speaking in an interview, prior to his own death in a helicopter accident in 2003, 11 time Isle of Man TT Winner and two-time winner of the British Superbike Championship, Steve 'Hizzy' Hislop, said of Neil Robinson, "Smutty, Neil Robinson...if he had not been killed at Scarborough, "Smutty" would have lifted the roads title away from Joey (Dunlop). Maybe not at the TT, but at the Ulster and the North West 200 for sure. He was mega".
Robinson's name remains a very popular one among the Northern Ireland road racing / Isle of Man TT fraternity. His racing circuit exploits in such a short period remain unsurpassed.
Neil's older brother Donny Robinson was killed in a racing accident at the 1999 North West 200 at Coleraine. He crashed heavily at the Mill Road Roundabout during 125cc (wet) practice and died the next morning at Coleraine Hospital from multiple injuries. Forty-five-year-old Donny had retired from a glittering Grand Prix career in 1985 to concentrate on road racing. Like his younger brother, he was a fearless road racer.
- "Neil Robinson". Motor Sport Database. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- Whyte, Kyle (14 September 2016). "Former manager's tribute to Neil 'Smutty' Robinson". Blefast News Letter. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- "Neil Robinson Memorial Race" (PDF). Motor Cycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre). 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2018.