The Ulster Short Circuit Championships were first held in 1968. There were three rounds at Kirkistown held by the Belfast and District Club, two at Maghaberry held by the Road Racing Club, one at Lurgan Park held by the North Armagh Club and one at Bishopscourt held by the Mourne Club. This Bishopscourt round was held on the original three miles circuit and was the first ever motorcycle race to be held at this venue.
The first champions were; 50cc – Roy Simpson (Honda); 200cc – Mickey Laverty (Bultaco), that’s Michael, John and Eugene’s father; 250cc – Billy Guthrie (BGS Yamaha); and Cecil Crawford was a double champion, winning the 350cc and Over 360cc titles riding Nortons. In fact this was the first of three consecutive 350cc/Over 360cc championship doubles for Cecil.
Other notable race winners during that first season include Michael and Patsy McGarrity, Ian McGregor, Jackie Robinson, Tommy Robb and Brian Steenson.
The 50cc class was dropped after the first year and for 1971 the Over 360cc class was split into 500cc and Over 500cc. Sidecars were added for 1973 and the championships continued in pretty much the same format until 1988 with the 125cc class being added in 1980 and the 80cc class in 1982.
It was all change for 1989 with the previous road race and short circuit championships being combined into a single Tarmac Championship with the 80cc class continuing as a short circuit only class. The Irish Championships reverted to separate road race and short circuit championships after just one year and the Ulster Championships were largely discontinued at this stage on the basis that there were too many championships – Irish, Ulster & Southern etc. The Ulster Tarmac Championship continued as the well-known Regal 600 series and was added to over the years with a 125cc class backed by Shell, then Superkings and finally Richmond and a Superbike class was added in 1999 known as the Lambert and Butler Challenge. These championships came to an end in 2003 due to government legislation restricting sponsorship by tobacco companies.
Ulster Short Circuit Championships had been partially reintroduced in 1992 for the Classic classes and there was a one-off 80cc return in 1998 and a Stars of Tomorrow 600cc class for riders under 25 years of age in 2004, but it was 2009 when the Ulster Superbike and Clubmans Championships made a full return for all classes. The two series were then combined in 2013 to form the Ulster Short Circuit Championships.
The most successful championship winner up to the end of the 2017 season is Alan Irwin. He won nine Ulster titles from 1980 to 1988 in the 250cc, 350cc, 500cc and 1000cc classes, as well as two Regal championships in 1994 and 1995, not forgetting three Embassy Championships in 1984, 1986 and 1987. The Embassy Championship ran alongside the Ulster Championships from 1973 to 1988 and brought together the fastest 30 riders, regardless of class, at each short circuit to take part in a points scoring final.
Joey Dunlop won seven Ulster Short Circuit titles from 1974 to 1978 again across all the main solo classes – 250cc, 350cc, 500cc and Over 500cc – and also won two Embassy titles in 1977 and 1978. Of the more recent competitors Alex Conroy is the most successful with seven championship wins in the Classic classes.