1964 Southern Commentary – April

Photo: Dr Beatty Crawford
Robert Woodside - Okrasa VW.

Southern Commentary by Des Bradley

This commentary is reproduced from Ulster Motorist April 1964

THE Dublin University Winter Rally, which I covered in last month’s notes, set a standard for Southern rallies, with its 13 finishers out of 36 starters – but the same club’s Night Trial run on Feb. 21st promptly set a new record. From a field of 38, there were NO official finishers after a 120 mile course through Sheet 16 with a short trip on to No.19! The event was laid on as a pre-Circuit practice and attracted quite an entry – mainly because of the prospect of six special sections in Forestry Land.

The start was from Kilmacanogue and there were several checks before the first section near Glenealy. Almost everyone had dropped time marks, even at this point, (although not everyone reached it), many of them due to a wicked bit of road between Ballinabarney Cross on the old Wicklow race circuit, and Glenealy itself. From this point on, the field started to thin out. St. Patrick’s Copper Mines accounted for several more retirements, and car No. 33 arrived at a Special section somewhere near Arklow, 9th on the road.

The net result was that eleven cars struggled to the finish at Ballymore Eustace, but none of them were within their one hour lateness, although if time lost on Special Sections were discounted, the Northern Mini-Cooper S with Ronnie McCartney and Terry Harryman would have just scraped in with 59 minutes lost, and only one time-point down.

These stalwarts were adjudged best non-finishers, while Leslie Vard/Reg Tilson in another Cooper S were second best. McCartney’s loss of marks was 1920, while Vard was credited with 3095, only ten in front of N. Rathbone in a Triumph TR3 navigated by Alan Park, and John Emerson/Jimmy Millard in John’s Mini, another 125 behind. The other seven had scores varying between 6275 and 7840.

A gleeful official statement issued by the Club reads, “As no crew finished within the time limit for exclusion, the official awards cannot be given, and the Glencree Cup will be won by the organisers.”

Surely an award should be given too to the Limerick crew who rigged their petrol supply with the aid of the windscreen washer tubing after their normal pipes had been cleaned off on the rough going, and who managed to reach Arklow at an unearthly hour only to be forced to sleep in their Mini until morning?

TWENTY entries for the M.E.C.’s mudplug at Killernan confounded the critics who argue that mudplugging is dead. The bulk of the entries were from across the border, and the Ulstermen, lead by Desmond Titterington in his Alexis, showed what real mud-specials can do. After two laps of the course, Titterington lost only six marks, and I’m sure that Brian Foley must have some great pictures of Cannons and Alexisi with their feet up.

Frank Nuttall, in his Standard Special, which was the subject of some scathing and untrue remarks in a contemporary publication, amused the huge turnout of spectators, but he had the last laugh himself when he romped home in front of all the other Southern drivers. Paddy Hopkirk was due to drive in the trial, but a delayed plane got him to Dublin too late, although he did a lap as a passenger with Peter Jenkins.

THE Limerick Club’s Winter Trial attracted an entry of 36 on the next day, and after fifteen tests spread over two laps of a long 25 mile course near Nenagh, Leslie Vard had five marks on Shea Griffin, and Charlie Gunn ensured himself of a drive on St. Patrick’s Day with a third place. Conor Lenihan from Galway in his Morris Cooper finished fourth and solved his problem of what to do on the Bank holiday also.

Next event in line was The MG Experts‘ Trial, which is no longer an Experts’ Trial, and which covered two laps in the Saggart-Rathcoole area and included 14 driving tests. This time, Steve Griffin in his supercharged GTS dodged in 4 secs. ahead of Shea, with Leslie Vard in third place four behind again.

THE Carrick-on-Suir navigation event the next day had a cash award with the Premier, and Charlie Gunn and Rickie Foott (Cooper S) captured it from Gerry King in The ex-Ronnie Noble Cooper.

THE Tipperary Traders’ Cup Trial changed venue again last month and was held over a course with 10 tests around Cahir, your correspondent managed to get his final Hewison “Q” at this event after a lot of trying — and cannot heap enough praise on the lovely open tests.t

Paul O’Flynn was only running-in his new Cooper but he still managed to win the Premier Award from Eamonn Cotter and Terry Power, also in Coopers.

The last event in the Hewison series was the Leinster ‘Lincoln and Nolan’ event which was held in North County Dublin and attracted 36 entries – which seems to be the average for a test trial nowadays. Four of the tests were held on private ground —two on Jack Scott’s Farm at Malahide, one at his factory near Artane, and the final one in the Grounds of Eddie Regan’s Castle af Clontarf, between them giving an excellent variety of surface.

Once again Steve Griffin beat “the brother” Shea, and the third place surprise was Clive Peterson in his Mini ahead of John Hayes and Dermot Carnegie in their Coopers, and Leslie Vard who had clobbered a pylon in his Cooper S. Larry Mooney got a lot of praise for his handling of the new VW 1500S and he finished seventh overall.

The Hewison final will, of course, be held on St. Patrick’s Day and will have just 25 qualifiers, although the final number will not be decided until after these notes have been penned.

A definite decision has yet to be made as to whether the Trials Drivers’ Club Ascot Trophy Trial will be counted in the series, and both Johnny Moore and Leslie Fitzpatrick are depending on this event for their fourth “Q”.

The qualifications so far are: Peter Jenkins, Reg Redmond, Jack Fildes, Brian Kehoe, Cecil and Leslie Vard, Shea and, Steven Griffin, Tom Burke, Paul O’Flynn, Des Cullen, Brendan Kenna, Dermot Carnegie, Larry Mooney, John Hayes, Terry Power, Noel Smith, Conor Lenihan, Charlie Gunn, Brian Cullen, Eamonn Cotter, Mike Ivis, and Des Bradley. The start of the Final will be at Dunboyne at 11 a.m.

AS soon as the final is over, all thoughts will be on the Circuit of Ireland, for which preliminary entry lists have just been released.

The International class, which should be very tough with 140 checks, 8 speed tests, and 18 special sections, has attracted 58 entries, a dozen of which are from the South. The Touring event, which will be based on navigation and driving tests, has 50 entries, with 14 from this side of the border.

In the International are the strong Cooper S team consisting of the Vard brothers and Noel Smith, and the VW 1500S team of Larry Mooney, Brian Kehoe, and Pat O’Callaghan from Kanturk, who will be navigated by another Cork driver, Tom Burke. Reg Armstrong has entered an Opel Kadett for Des Cullen and a Prinz Four for Billy Kilroy, whilst Stan Ryan and Leo Conway will share another privately-entered Prinz, and John Hayes will drive his father’s Peugeot. Dave Glover and Mike Basset will share a Mini in the same class, whilst Gordan Garrey from Carlow is down for MG. Johnny Moore will drive his Austin Cooper S. Rosemary Smith will be there with Sheila O’Clery in a works-Sunbeam and Alec Poole can probably be classed as a Southern entry in a Sprite, although he is entered from an English address!

The Touring Class has a surprising number of Southern Experts, most of them probably here on account of the high International entry fee, and the prospect of doing a lot of no good to bread-and-butter motor cars. Pat Naismith will be in with a Cortina, Brian Cullen in his Cooper, Dennis Hogan in his Mini, Irwin Catherwood in a similar model, and Jackie Fildes teamed up with Mike Ivis, and Ralph Mayer in an MG 1100. Peter Jenkins will attend with the Sprite and Eddie Regan in his new Cooper S, Bill Pryor will be down to earth in his Triumph Spitfire, and Steve Moran in a Prinz.