declan bright

Queens University Belfast, Two-Stroke Engines and Motorcycle Grand Prix Racing Legends

When I was a young fella I decided that I wanted to become a mechanical engineer, I always had an interest in machines and engines and I managed to get myself onto the mechanical engineering degree course at the Queen's University Belfast. While there I found myself working in the lab with a guy called Ray McCullough, Ray was a legend for many years before I was even born, having won many road races on two wheels.

Ray McCullough

Ray gave the mighty Joey Dunlop a good run for his money.

By the time I got to Queen's, Ray had retired from racing and was working as a technician in the mechanical engineering lab in the Ashby Building on Stranmillis Road. He was working with students on various research projects related to the development of two-stroke engines. I was working on a project which involved dual ignition, under the supervision of Professor Robert Fleck, former head of the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering in Queen's. Ray was in the lab to help me build (and rebuild) the test engine on the dynamometer. He was a complete gentleman and I have fond memories of working with him, we even managed to blow the odd piston.

The mechanical engineering department of Queen's isn't just involved in the development of two-stroke engines, it also has a long history of involvement with World Championship Grand Prix motorcycle racing. Teaming up with OPTIMUM Power Technology as QUB Team Optimum and Jeremy McWilliams. Jeremy was riding a 250cc Honda that year (1997) and it was this Honda engine that I worked on. Jeremy is a nice bloke too, he has managed some impressive feats on two wheels, including 2nd place on a 250cc at the German grand prix in Sachsenring in 1998.

This is a small part of a broader story about QUB's involvement in road racing which is covered in more detail in the September 2020 issue of Road Racing Ireland magazine.

Road Racing Ireland magazine - September 2020

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Development of Road Racing in Ulster

Here is some more vintage racing footage:

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