Article reproduced from Motorweek 24 September 1968. Report by Esler Crawford.
DRIVING TEST TEAM ROW
“Championship is meaningless” – winner Cree.
Roger Cree’s action in handing back the Hopkirk Trophy to the Northern Ireland Association of Car Clubs as a protest against his non selection for the Ulster T.V. Trophy Team after he had won this year’s Ulster Driving Test Championship has been raising quite a furore in motor sport circles over the past fortnight.
The Ulster team for the T.V. Trophy was chosen at a meeting of the Association at Cappagh on Tuesday, September 10, just a few days after the final round of the Championship had taken place at Carrickfergus where Cree had clinched the championship when his nearest rival Harold Hagan had failed to win the event.
As well as Cree, the most highly placed people in cars appropriate for the T.V. Trophy classes were Ron Mullen and Ken Shields. But a lot of people who watched the tests were convinced that these three were not necessarily the best drivers in their classes and such names as Ronnie McCartney, Harold Hagan, Robert Woodside and Ian Woodside were in their minds.
At the selection meeting it was obvious that there were two schools of thought on the situation. There were those that argued that the drivers who had done best in the Championship and who had supported nearly all the events should be chosen as this would encourage more people to participate in a branch of the sport which is somewhat in the doldrums at present.
The other side of the argument was that the team most likely to win the T.V. Trophy should be sent irrespective of their placing in the championship.
Driving tests is one branch of motor sport in which Ulster leads the world — indeed it could be said that it is the only sport in which the province occupies this position. The Ulster team has won the T.V. Trophy seven times out of nine attempts and it was felt that the strongest possible team should be chosen in order to uphold this magnificent record.
No unanimous decision could be taken on the composition of the team and eventually a vote had to be taken. Each member club of the Association was entitled to one vote for each class and the result of the vote was as follows:
Sports Car Class — Harold Hagan 8, Roger Cree 3.
G.T. Class — Ronnie McCartney 9, Ron Mullen 3.
Large Saloon Class — Robert Woodside 7, Ken Shields 6.
Thus the team for the T.V. Trophy was Hagan, McCartney and Woodside with Cree, Mullen and Shields as first reserves. As a result of this Roger Cree said he did not wish to retain the Hopkirk Trophy as he considered that this decision on the team rendered the driving test championship meaningless.
N.I.A.C.C. honorary secretary Ronnie Trouton said, “It is unfortunate that the idea has arisen that the team for the T.V. Trophy is automatically chosen on the results of the championship.
“When the Championship was instituted three years ago it was clearly stated in the rules that the results would only be borne in mind when the T.V. Trophy team is selected”
After all this, a very interesting event would appear to be Hagan, McCartney and Woodside versus Cree, Mullen and Shields with maybe a third team consisting of Adrian Boyd, Ian Woodside and Frank Robinson – representing a past T.V. team, and if this could be organised it would be a great opportunity for the local television to cover live.
The addition of a team from Eire would add a bit of spice to the occasion.