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exhibition of road racing photographs, entitled ‘Beautiful
Danger’ opened at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra
on Friday 22nd November. The exhibition will run throughout 2003.
Stephen Davison, a staff photographer with Pacemaker Press International,
and a regular contributor
to Road Racing Ireland, took the 37 images on display over the past 10
years. Many of the pictures are new and have not been seen before, although
there are also some images from his best-selling book on Joey Dunlop.
road racing fan since his first race in 1974, Davison explains how the
exhibition developed. ‘The exhibition is called “Beautiful
Danger” and I think that
sums up my feelings about road racing,’ he says.
The beauty of the sport is what first drew me to it- the sheer spectacle
that pure road racing is. There is the road itself, the ribbons of tarmac
that cut their way through beautiful countryside, winding between the
hedges of green country lanes, along coastal roads and out over mountain tops.
earliest racing memory is the sight of racing bikes breaking out from under the
tunnel of trees on the Cochranstown straight, skimming past
our noses at over100mph into Quarterlands. The noise, the smell! I was too
scared to even think about who was leading never mind mark it in the
And there is the charisma of the racers themselves, mostly amateurs who
race for the love of it. To stand in the pits and watch the Dunlop brothers
strip an engine or change the gearing in between races was a privilege
to wonder at. Unlike many modern sportsmen who hide away from their fans,
the road racers are approachable men who are happy to share a drink and
a chat in the beer tent after the race.
There is no denying the danger of road racing either. The litany of men
who have paid the ultimate price for their sport is long and well-known.
We should also be honest about this. The danger is part of the thrill
for both competitor and spectator alike. The racers enjoy taking it to
edge and as fans we marvel at how these men can do things we couldn’t
even imagine trying. Fear is part of the equation for both
are the things that I have tried to capture in these photographs. They
are not a complete history, they are one man’s view, my view.
Most of the main characters of the past 10 years are here, doing what
they do best.
Man and machine at incredible speeds on the highways and byways that
we use every other day of the year. Our roads, our heroes, our sport.’