1962 August TAH Rally Gossip

Ronnie McCartney in action in the Okrasa-VW during the Circuit of Ulster.

RALLY GOSSIP by Terry Harryman

Reproduced from Ulster Motorist Magazine August 1962.

WELL thank goodness that little lot is over. Eight events in twenty-four days. However, now We will have a bit of a rest, as this month there are only three, while in August there is the grand total of one. Something wrong somewhere in the calendar, although I suppose its all tangled up with the summer holidays.

June opened with one of those enjoyable test meetings the Armagh Club holds at Meghaberry. This time they used a new marking system, competitors having three goes at each of four tests with their best time in each test to count. This means that one can muck up a test without being penalised for it. However I feel that only one time out of three to count allows a little too much freedom and that the two best times would have been better. The tests were pretty open affairs and everyone had a real “mow.”

Adrian Boyd was in great form in his Sebring Sprite and left the rest way behind winning by 7 secs. from Ronnie McCartney (Okrasa-VW) with Robert Woodside (VW) and Ronnie White (Sprite s/c) tying for third only a fifth of a second behind and Colin Andrew (Mini) a further four-fifths behind them.

Class winners were Boyd, McCartney and Reggie McSpadden (15O0 VW) whose main opposition came from Paddy Hopkirk who was really enjoying himself in that Minx of his. Interesting new machinery on view included Brian Fallson’s Sprite, with a very attractive modified Pema bonnet, and the non-competing Cooper-Mini and Simca 1000 of Derek Boyd and Maurice Johnston respectively, both very much in the running-in stage.

Saturday 9th saw most of the happy family heading towards Dun Laoghaire for the An Tostal Trial (and getting “happier,” the further they went). The contingent collected a reasonable share of the spoils, but failed, for the first time, to capture the premier award. Paddy Hopkirk (Minx), Adrian Boyd (Sebring Sprite) and Bertie McElhinney (Lotus Super Seven) all won their classes. Pat Barr took the ladies’ prize and P. C. Johnston (Ford Special) the novice award.

In case you thought Hopkirk in a Minx was a mis-print, here he takes his Minx round a pylon on the An Tostal Trial on his way to a class win.

Early the next day, five Ulster crews left Phoenix Park to do battle in the Circuit of Munster. Quite well they did too. Ronnie McCartney/ Terry Harryman (Okrasa-VW) took the overall prize and first in their class with Adrian Boyd/Maurice Johnston (Sebring Sprite) second overall and first in their class. The latter pair, along with Reggie McSpadden/John Armstrong (VW) and Robert McBurney/Derek Surgenor (VW) who finished 5th and 7th overall, also collected the team prize.

BACK home the following week-end the Newry club only had 17 starters in their Circuit of Down, the third Whig Trophy event this year. This small field was due to the fact that the two previous Circuits of Down had been pretty woeful and the boys expected this year’s to follow suit. I am glad to say they were wrong. This was a great event that kept crews hard at it all the way.

The regularity section caught everybody out and only one car got through the rest of the road sections clean. The tests were run on a handicap system with the large saloon on the scratch mark and the specials and sports cars having 10% added to their times. This brought all the times much closer together and gave each car an even chance. However this is still not the answer, but it is, I think, fairer than the U.A.C.’s system where a competitor’s marks depend on a rival’s times just as much as his own.

Robert McBurney/Derek Surgenor (VW) struck winning form at last to beat Jack Keatley/Norman Devlin (Cooper-Mini) by 12 marks. A further 27 marks behind came Thompson Glass/Niall Hannigan (Hayrake) with Paddy Hopkirk/Terry Harryman (Hillman) another 2 marks down. Ian Woodside/ Ester Crawford (Sprite s/c) had the misfortune to break a radiator hose and lose water, this costing them a lot of time.

Altogether and enjoyable afternoon and congrats to Messrs. Naylor and Campbell who organised the event and have promised an even better one next year. Let’s hope they get the support. However one crew that won’t be too keen to return is Dennis Bell/Fenton Coulter (Sprite) who were originally classified as finishers, but when they protested about a 100 mark penalty they incurred, they were informed that if they did not withdraw their protest they would not be classified as finishers, as they had failed to get a time marked on their road-book at a control.

As the club were obviously aware of this, one wonders why the crew was classified as having finished at all! There is no doubt that the Newry boys can lay out a good event but their officials will have to get more familiar with R.A.C. procedure.

ONCE again the Dungannon club devised a good event in their June Rally. This was somewhat similar to the Circuit of Down except that navigators had a bit more work to do, plotting five controls and sixteen checks in the 60 mile run. The route used was excellent, taking competitors first onto the slopes of the Sperrins and then into a maze of roads in County Armagh giving no time to relax. Only one car, that Okrasa-VW of Ronnie McCartney/ Terry Harryman, came-through clean.

Next best was Ronnie White and his sister Doris, who must be one of the best lady navigators in Ireland now, in a Wolseley 1500 this time, losing 40 marks, while Norman Devlin, who had Douglas Acheson navigating for him, in a Mini, lost 100 (third best). With McCartney coming out top in the four driving tests held en route, he won comfortably from White and Devlin.

Yes, a very enjoyable event and perhaps a few more of the regulars will pay a visit to Dungannon on the first Friday in September to sample this rising club’s next event.

This year’s Knock “All-night-Rally” was not a very interesting do except that the driving tests had been well though out and were very open. It turned out to be a case of covering 240 miles to do ten of these tests and also have a very enjoyable supper in Cushendall.

A 50 mile navigation section merely involved visiting six checks in the 100 minutes allowed. Only three of the thirty-seven starters lost marks on this and so the event was decided on test times. Robert Woodside (VW) was in brilliant form having F.T.D. (or should it be F.T.N.?) in four tests, second fastest in two and third fastest in one. This was sufficient to give him an overall win from his brother Ian (Sprite s/c) by 5.6 secs with Thompson Glass (Hayrake) third, a further second behind, and Jack Keatley (Cooper-Mini) fourth.

A study in post-test expressions, Dr Thompson Glass and Robert Woodside.

Class winners were Jack Keatley, Robert Woodside, Ian Woodside and Frank Robinson (1500 VW) who finished eighth overall. A very creditable performance was that of Derek Boyd who finished sixth overall on his first outing in the Cooper-Mini.

The team award went to the Woodsides and Derek Boyd. Very enjoyable if taken as it was intended as a light-hearted “do”, but hardly worthy of Ulster Rally Championship status.

ON Tuesday 26th the Larne club ran their annual Ladies’ rally. This only attracted six entries. Surely there are more interested ladies than this? However, because of the small entry, the club ran a closed test meeting concurrently with the ladies’ event and this attracted a very good entry. The ladies’ section was decided on a handicap system similar to that used in the Circuit of Down.

Mrs. Janet Allison won this quite comfortably in her Anglia, being fastest on scratch as well as on handicap. She was followed by Cecil Molyneaux’s wife, Daphne (Volvo) and John McClean’s wife, Elma (Cooper-Mini). Pat Barr (Mini) had four very fast, test times but got rather confused in one of the other two.

In the general classification Robert Woodside (VW), Ian Woodside (Sprite s/c) and Thompson Glass (Hayrake) had a great scrap until Robert had a line fault in the fifth test. However this test had to be scrubbed and Robert came out winner from Ian and Thompson. Some of the times recorded at the last test were rather fantastic with an old type Ford Anglia supposedly fastest!

THE North of Ireland Motor Club finished the month off with their Circuit of Ulster, the fifth event counting to the Ulster Rally Championship. This was definitely “the best event this year” and will take some beating, although I have been confidently assured that December’s Larne “Starlight Rally” will take that title. Forty-seven crews started from Coleraine, Omagh and Belfast, among them visitor Noel Smith (NSU) from Dublin. The 230 mile route included three navigation sections of 43, 42 and 35 miles, and ten driving tests, which were marked on the U.A.C. system of fastest in each class losing 0 marks.

Eleven crews came through clean on the road, so it was again left to the driving tests to decide the winner. Up to the last three tests it looked to be a battle between Robert Woodside (VW) and Frank Robinson (1500 VW). However, these last tests changed it completely with Frank Robinson collecting two pylons (20 marks) and Robert Woodside having a failure (20 marks). Other of the leading drivers to incur penalties here were Robert McBurney (VW) and Ian Woodside (Sprite) who both hit pylons; so Thompson Glass/Niall Hannigan (Hayrake) came out winners from Reggie McSpadden/John Armstrong (1500 VW) and Jack Keatley/Norman Devlin (Cooper-Mini). Frank Robinson/Mrs. Robinson and Robert Woodside/Terry Harryman still managed to tie for fourth place however.

Provisional placings in the Ulster Rally Championship after the Circuit of Ulster are as follows:

  1. Thompson Glass (Hayrake) 49 points;
  2. Ian Woodside (Sprite s/c) 39 points;
  3. Jack Keatley (Cooper-Mini) 36 points;
  4. Robert Woodside (VW) 27 points;
  5. Robert McBurney (VW) 25 points;
  6. Adrian Boyd (Sebring Sprite) 16 points.

I must stress that these positions and figures are in nob way official, and are based on personal calculations from provisional results.

Congratulations to Robin Steenson (Mini) on his class win in the International Scottish Rally. This was a very good performance indeed. I believe that Peter Johnston (Sebring Sprite) and John Eakin (Sprite) had both led their class at times, Peter first, until navigational problems dropped him a number of places and then John, until he suffered a split fuel tank. Really hard luck, but a very good effort on both parts.

I have also heard that Reggie McSpadden may be disposing of the 1500 VW and arming himself with one of those Okrasa equipped Beetles. His main objective here, I think, is finding a suitable car for the R.A.C. Rally, and the Okrasa-VW should be just the job. Ronnie McCartney is thinking along similar lines and these cars should be very fast on the rough special stages of the R.A.C. They would run in the small sports car class along with the Sprites and having seen the way Ronnie’s car goes, they should be in with a great chance.