THE legendary rivalry between the fabled Armoy Armada and Dromara Destroyers will be celebrated in a new feature film due for release in November.
‘The Race of Legends – The Beginning’ reflects on a golden era in motorcycle road racing in the seventies, when Armada members Joey Dunlop, Frank Kennedy, Mervyn Robinson and Jim Dunlop took on fierce rivals the Destroyers, including Ray McCullough, Trevor Steele, Brian Reid and Ian McGregor.
Treasured memories of the battles between the old adversaries are still fondly remembered today, while the legacy of the Armada lives on through the Armoy road races, a thriving national meeting first held in 2009.
Produced by Northern Ireland company Waldovision Ltd, the new film follows on from the hugely successful ‘Joey Dunlop – No Ordinary Joe’, which was released last year and is being marketed globally by Duke.
The programme, produced by Colin James – company director of Waldovision – directed by Ann Masefield and presented by Stephen Watson, reflects on the early days of road racing, with the conflict between the Armada and Destroyers forming the centrepiece of the film.
The story also observes the emergence of the Armoy road races – due to take place next month on July 28 – as a live tribute to an age when motorcycle racing between the hedges enjoyed a halcyon period.
Previous films produced by Waldovision include Charge of the Bike Brigade, Stanley Woods – Forgotten Hero, Joey Dunlop – Remembered and How the North West Was Won.
Explaining the idea behind the new DVD, James said: “The film ties in with the Race of Legends, which celebrates that period in the seventies when the Armoy Armada and Dromara Destroyers were battling against each other.
“That rivalry forms the centre point of the film along with all the associated riders of the day, like Tom Herron, Abe Alexander and Courtney Junk and so many more too numerous to name.
“As time passes it’s becoming increasingly more important to remember those days.
“We took all the films that we made in the seventies and eighties and edited them to take out the copyright music to make some films that are currently being sold through Duke.
“They’ve been selling now for about three years and are still selling well and there’s a continuing interest in that period of time,” he added.
“We have a huge amount of archive material at our disposal, with so much footage that hasn’t been used previously in our previous films.
“This new film will be roughly an hour and a half long with around 20 minutes of extras including additional interviews and other information.
“The ‘Race of Legends’ is probably one of the most successful and best organised road races in the whole of Ireland, never mind Northern Ireland,” he added.
“It’s enormously popular and people are coming from all over Europe to see it.
“The interest is amazing and there is a big demand for more films of that era, which is celebrated through the Armoy race.”
The programme contains a rich library of unseen photographs by Derek McIntyre, Roy Adams, Paul McClean, John Tennant, and both the late Ian Watson and Billy Gillen.
Footage from Colin and Alwyn James’ own archive collection forms the main basis of the programme, although the brothers were granted access to the private film records of Hubert Steele, Hector Neill, Andy Craig, Paul McClean and Charmaine Wheeler during their research for the production.
Exclusive film from the fifties taken at the Carrowdore 100, Ulster Grand Prix and North West 200 will make for fascinating viewing.
A host of personalities have been interviewed, including Bill Kennedy (brother of Frank), Paul Robinson (son of Mervyn), Jim Dunlop, Ian McGregor, Brian Reid, Ray McCullough, and Trevor Steele.
Well-known Ulster singer Mike Keery has written and performed several new songs for the film in the wake of the success of his song about Joey in No Ordinary Joe.
Colin added: “It’s important that this chapter in history is recorded and I’m sure there will be a lot of interest in this.
“The Joey DVD is selling across the world and has attracted huge interest and we expect the same interest again.
“It takes months to put something like this together and we’re now at the editing stage, but the result in the end will be worthwhile.”
Profits from the sale of the DVD will go towards the Dromara Destroyers Tribute Garden Fund.
The Race of Legends – The Beginning will be available from Duke Marketing in November.