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Tribute to David Wood 25 May 2004

Isle of Man Tourism Minister, David Cretney, paid tribute to David Wood who passed away at lunchtime today in Belfast having been ill for some time.

"Our sympathy goes to Lee, his wife, and their family circle at this sad time," said the Minister.

David had been central to the road racing scene for over 40 years when, in the 1960s, he and Joey Dunlop battled on Triumph Tiger Cubs. In 1980 David was the Irish 200cc champion and in an historic move in 1981 David, together with Johnny Rea, secured a riding contract with Honda for Joey Dunlop.

Joey later said:

"You do the talking and I'll do the riding,"

and so David became manager of Joey Dunlop through most of his glory years working with a number of sponsors from Downtown Radio, Bertie Payne, John Harris and Andy McMenemy amongst others. David had a great affinity with the Isle of Man and brought many, many budding new road racers from Ireland, north and south, to look at competing in the TT and MGP races, which many have done with distinction. In this he co-operated with a number of people on the Island including former Clerk of the Course Jack Wood and the Mike Hailwood Foundation.

"When Joey lost his life in Estonia and Jack, Peter Kneale and I travelled to Ballymoney for his funeral, David arranged for me to read a lesson in church on behalf of the people of the Isle of Man with sports ministers from Ireland, north and south, and the UK present. This was a great honour," said David Cretney.

In 1998 David was guest of honour at the Manx Grand Prix. He was very proud to be asked to undertake this duty given his long association with the Isle of Man. Indeed, he competed in the 1972 MGP and had many friends here.

Close friend of David and Lee, Iain McDonald, whose garage was put to good use on the Island during race periods said:

"David was never happier than when he was running up and down the pit lane during the Manx Grand Prix, and the riders he has been associated with reads like a who's who of the best road racers - including Joey, Phil McCallen, James Courtney, Ricky Mitchell, Darren Lindsay, Adrian Archibald, Richard Britton and many others."

Mr Cretney added:

"David was awarded the Tourism Merit Award by the Department of Tourism for his efforts some time ago and he was a familiar sight around the road racing paddock for so long. It will not seem the same without him.

"We will miss his enthusiasm, his energy, his optimism and his twinkling eyes. He was a great ambassador for road racing and the road racing family shares his family's loss today."

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