The Kerry Motor Club, organisers of Sunday’s Rose Hotel Circuit of Kerry Rally in Tralee, have announced plans for a first Irish rally celebration with milk rather than the customary champagne.
While it will be a first in Ireland, it’s a regular tradition at the Indianapolis 500. That custom began when triple Indy winner Louis Meyer regularly drank buttermilk to refresh himself and drank some in Victory Lane after winning the 1936 race.
Apparently, an executive with the then Milk Foundation was so impressed when he saw the moment captured in a photograph in the sports section of his local newspaper, he vowed to make sure it would be repeated in coming years.
Although the practice stopped between 1947-55, it’s been a tradition ever since its revival in 1956.
The fascinating Kerry connection comes via Chris Maloney, owner of the Ballymac Dairy in Tralee, which supplies glass-bottled milk.
As a native New Yorker I am well aware of the Indy 500 tradition. I’m delighted to play my part in bringing this tradition to a local rally.
So who will have the honour on Sunday evening? Cork’s Daragh O’Riordan (Fiesta WRC) is top seed and favourite even though he has only made sporadic appearances in recent years.
In the absence of second seed Daniel Cronin, whose engine is currently with M-Sport, it is left to the Subaru trio of Limerick’s Ed Synan, Kerry’s Mike Quinn, and Clare’s Padraig Egan to provide the challenge.
None of the trio have great experience of World Cars — Synan has one event under his belt and will have an S12 Subaru at his disposal; Quinn makes his debut in an S11 — a car campaigned by O’Riordan back in 2011, while Egan has a second outing of the season in the McKinstry Motorsport S14 following his debut in the car in Longford some two weeks ago, he will probably be the most comfortable in his surroundings over the nine stages.
Others in the 100-plus line up are Limerick’s Ian Roche (Subaru WRC), two-wheel drive specialists Stuart Darcy and Tommy Mason in Ford Escorts, Raymond Conlon (Toyota Corolla) and Keith Lyons (Ford Fiesta R5).
Meanwhile, tomorrow’s Eakin Bros Brian James Trailers Rally in Strabane, the third round of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship, has eight-time champion Derek McGarrity (Fiesta WRC) as the top seed.
Series leader Draperstown’s Derek McGeehan (Mini WRC) and Ballymoney’s Alan Carmichael (Hyundai i20 R5) are next off the start line. However, the main threat is likely to be provided by Derry duo Callum Devine (Fiesta R5) and Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia R5). Devine lives in nearby Feeny and the event could be classed as his local rally.
For Letterkenny’s Manus Kelly, the rally offers more seat time in his new Hyundai i20 R5.
He has struggled on the opening two rounds of the Irish Tarmac series as he adapts to R5 and left-hand drive. Donegal’s Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla) is the top two-wheel drive contender and he will face tough opposition for the likes of Camillus Bradley, James Kennedy, Vivian Hamill, and Mickey Conlon.
The two stages in the Donemana area will be repeated three times with service in Strabane after stages two and four. The event finishes in Strabane at 4.30pm.