Tribute movie to Killyleagh racing icon set to premiere

Tribute movie to Killyleagh racing icon set to premiere

12 February 2020

A HIGHLY impressive new tribute film to local road racer Brian Steenson is set for its premiere in Downpatrick early next month.

The Killyleagh rider — who tragically lost his life following a crash at the Isle of Man TT 50 years ago — was widely regarded as a future motorcycle racing champion.

Revered by his peers, Steenson was not only a road racer, but a talented engineer, sportsman and musician.

His life was sadly cut short aged just 23 and while he enjoyed a relatively short racing career, he left an indelible mark on the sport he loved.

The new documentary film entitled, ‘Brian Steenson — The last Lap’ premieres at Down High School — where the road racer was a former head boy — on Wednesday, March 4, at 7.30pm, with all proceeds from ticket sales going to Air Ambulance Northern Ireland.

Featuring rarely seen archive footage and interviews with those who knew him best and still fondly remember him, the new documentary which is around one hour long, is not just about motorcycle racing. It is so much more than that; it’s a great drama and a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting story.

Steenson, who was an only son, raced from 1966 to 1970 but in that short time, his skill and unique riding style helped firmly establish him in the record books as one of the Province’s top racers. 

There was so much more that he could have achieved.

The documentary produced by Waldovision reflects on Steenson’s life from his primary school days in Killyleagh, just a short distance from his home on the Derryboy side of the Clea Loughs, through his time at Down High to studying engineering at Queen’s University Belfast.

Highlights of his motorcycle racing career are woven through his personal life including his long association with his childhood sweetheart Irene Kelly whom he first met at Down High when he was 15.

The programme is illustrated with many unseen pictures from his races and life outside the track, with stories and anecdotes recalled by those proud to call him their friend.

It is a human drama story told buy those who interacted with Steenson during his 23 years, from Mrs Elizabeth Rea, one of his teachers at Down High, to his former girlfriend, fellow pupils and university students, fellow racers and fans from his race days.

Presented and narrated by BBC NI’s Stephen Watson, the documentary film draws on first hand memories of those who knew Steenson best, including a boyhood fan who followed in his footsteps and copied his racing leathers with a photo of the road racer on his helmet.

Film director Colin James and producer Rowland White say they think it is a “fitting tribute” to Steenson’s memory to show the premier at Down High School where the Killyleagh man spent almost a third of his short life.

They added: “Down High has been very helpful with the making of the programme including providing race memorabilia and helping stage some dramatic re-enactments of moments of Brian’s life at the school.”

Colin described the documentary as an “interesting, but sad story” about a young man who had so many talents in a variety of fields and someone who was brilliant at practically anything he turned his hand to. He also described Steenson as a “leader of men”.

Abe Alexander, who raced against Steenson and features in the documentary, agreed that it is much more than a film about a road racer.

“The film is a terrific watch and Colin and Roland have done an amazing job. Watching the film brought back so many memories and people will enjoy it. Well done to everyone involved in this production,” he added.

Stephen Watson said he was “delighted” to be involved in the tribute film on a man who made such an impact on the history of motorcycle racing during his short career.

“Even 50 years later, Brian’s legacy to the sport is deservedly well remembered,” he said.

“I shall be the compere on the premiere night to remember Brian and introduce a Down High pupil whose life was saved by the air ambulance, the charity that will benefit from the ticket sales.”

A DVD of the film is available from March 4, while tickets for the Down High premiere are available at