Diffing track owner backs calls for greater regulation

THE owner of a legal ‘diffing’ track says he fully supports calls for stricter regulations.
Diffing, a form of drifting where cars perform manoeuvres such as donuts, was brought into sharp focus during the summer when hundreds of modified vehicles gathered in Letterkenny during what traditionally would have been Rally Weekend. Their well-publicised antics, which brought some parts of the town to a standstill, sparked calls for an all-out crackdown on the practice.
At this month’s meeting of Letterkenny and Milford Municipal District councillors said something needs to be done to get control of the county’s vibrant diffing scene. As things stand it is having a negative impact on Letterkenny’s economy and on the lives of people generally, members agreed.
“I am not trying to stop them but they should be regulated to a high standard and people living close by should be given the opportunity to raise their concerns and protest if necessary,” Councillor Gerry McMonagle said.
Phonsie McDermott and Joe McGlinchey operate Manor Diffing Track at Galdonagh in Manorcunningham, a fully regulated, licensed and insured facility. A not-for-profit business, they run events once a fortnight which draw drivers from all over Ireland.
Mr McDermott said that given the negative publicity that has been generated around the activity, he would be completely behind any plans to bring those giving diffing a bad name into line.
“I would absolutely support the plans because we run our business to the best of our ability. But unfortunately you have people giving diffing a bad name.
“This is a fully controlled environment where we pay €9,000 per year for insurance. We have proper barriers in place, we are fully stewarded and we have trained first-aiders. So we are doing absolutely all we can,” Mr McDermott said.
The track owner described last summer’s scenes as “very damaging” for his club and said often just the mention of diffing in Manorcunningham prompts a negative reaction.
But Phonsie McDermott said that when managed in a controlled environment, diffing can be a positive past-time.
“Young people can learn to drive, parents can come and watch them which a lot do and it takes them away from driving on the roads.
“It is really good for young boys and girls if it is done right because it teaches them how to behave.”
Manor Diffing Track started out life as a stock car facility, a sport Mr McDermott participated passionately in.
“We started as stock cars and I love the sport. But I’ve no time for dangerous sport. It has to be in a controlled environment, properly staffed and where the drivers don’t get away with anything. We don’t tolerate any of that, no revving, no carry on, any of that and they are barred. If anyone stops their car, I stop the whole thing, that’s how we operate here.”
Phonsie McDermott said that having seen footage of what has happened during some Rally Weekends previously, greater regulation cannot come quick enough.
“I’m in big favour of any regulations that are brought in, both for safety reasons and for the environment.
“How someone hasn’t been killed long ago I don’t know because what is happening out there is an accident waiting to happen. Anyone with any sense can see that. But the truth is that a lot of these people don’t want to see the Rally, they don’t even go to the stages of the Rally.
“Ourselves here, we are racers all the days of our lives and it’s a sport we love. We want to see it done right but unfortunately it attracts this bad publicity.
“But it isn’t right to tar us all with the one brush when we are doing our best to promote safety and keep things right.”

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

and get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
Every Thursday
Every Monday

Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland