1969 December Southern Chat

The third-placed Robin Eyre-Maunsell / Norman Henderson Imp on a bridge during the 1969 Hellfire Rally.

Another Eire win for Smith/Foott

This report by Brian Foley featured in Autosport 18 December 1969 in the “Club News” section.

REIGNING rally champions Noel Smith/Ricky Foott won their third championship round on December 6/7, and their second in a row. They started the season with victory in the Thomond on October 4/5, but this rally may be dropped from the championship unless the Limerick MC can satisfy the RIAC that average speeds were not higher than the regulation limit.

Smith/Foott finished 6.1 marks behind Galway crew Mick Barry/Dan Kavanagh (Escort TC) in the Cork 20 on November 1/2, and then went on to add the next two rounds to their credit.

The MGCC and Aer Lingus MC combined forces to organise the third championship round, the Flying Octagon Rally, on the night of November 22/23. Dublin clubs are now keeping rallies away from the thickly populated and ‘built-up’ city and surrounding areas and the start was at Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Smith/Foott carried number one on their 1.3 Cooper S to head the 35-car entry, followed by Arnie Poole (Alec’s brother) and Paul Phelan, having their first outing of the season in an ex-works 1.3 Cooper S (ORX 777F). Mick Dolan/Jim O’Brien (Escort TC) and the ever-improving John Bridges/Brendan Doyle (1.3 Cooper S).

A slippery grass track to TP2 caught the first few cars, but John O‘Gorman/Noel Davin, Mick Barry/Dan Kavanagh and Gerry Forde/Frank Fennell all got through unpenalised in their Escort TCs, and also Dave Sheridan/Nial Leonard (Stiletto) and Robert Maharry/Kenny Johnston (1.3 Cooper S).

The first two and a half hours of 4 and 5-minuters caused little worry, but Pat Fay/Frank O’Donoghue retired with a broken diff on their Renault Gordini at TP7, and Poole/Phelan missed TP24 altogether.

Dolan set the pace on SS1 at Mullaghmeen, dropping 6.22 to the 6.36 of Smith, with Robin Powderley (1.5 Anglia) third (6.42) followed by Bridges and Forde (6.46), Billy Kilroy/Mrs John Bridges (1.3
Cooper S, (6.53).

Ten cars went off on one right-hander, and these included several experts such as Poole, O’Gorman, Barry, Maharry and Charlie Gunn/Harry McEvoy (Escort TC), but all got going again thanks to the help of spectators. Dolan retired his Escort with water pump trouble at the supper stop at Oldcastle, and Gunn also retired his Escort TC with a leaking radiator.

After supper it was back to Mullaghmeen for SS2, this time in the opposite direction, and Smith and Bridges tied at 6.39; O’Gorman (6.42), Poole (6.45), Powderley (6.50) and Barry (6.56) followed, and Eamonn Cotter/Mick Silke (1.3 Cooper S) had to stop when the battery lead came adrift.

More navigation, with eight TPs, led to SS3 at Bailieboro (2.1 miles). This section in Co Cavan included a ridiculously tight hairpin, with quite a drop on the out- side, which caused almost everyone to resort to reverse gear. O’Gorman (3.12) was quickest, followed by Smith, Poole and Barry (3.13), Bridges (3.14) despite stalling his engine at that hairpin, Powderley and Jimmy Reid/Morgan O’Sullivan (1.3 Cooper S) at 3.15 each.

Bridges (4.52) took the last stage, SS4 at Virginia (2.9 miles), with Smith and O’Gorman (4.56), Barry (4.59), Forde (5.02) and Kilroy (5.07) next in line. Poole/Phelan stopped with a flat tyre after only a mile, and Maharry/Johnston lost time with battery trouble.

Smith/Foott and Bridges/Doyle dropped 10 each on the road, 1 min lost at TP2, but Smith was faster by 7 secs on the stages. O’Gorman/Davin dropped 60 on the road, but their stage performances brought the Cork crew home third.

Following a re-check of the original results and time sheets, some wrong approaches and departures were uncovered and the following results are now official.

Brian Foley

  1. N.T.Smith/R.H.Foott (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 64 marks lost (10 on road);
  2. J.H.Bridges/B.Doyle (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 71 (10);
  3. J.A.O’Gorman/N.Davin (Ford Escort TC). 134 (60);
  4. M.E.Barry/D.Kavanagh (Ford Escort TC), 160 (13);
  5. D.Yeates/D.Flanagan (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 260 (33);
  6. R.S.Maharry/K.Johnston (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 324 (100);
  7. T.McNally/D.Johnston (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 463 (300);
  8. W.A.Poole/P.Phelan (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 561 (280);
  9. W.E.Kilroy/Mrs J.Bridges (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 797 (660);
  10. C.S.Miller/H.Robson (Renault Gordini R8), 1372 (530).

Noel Smith/Ricky Foott (Cooper S) won the Leinster MC’s Hellfire Rally on December 6-7 by just 1 sec from Pat Fay/Frank O’Donoghue (Renault Gordini) — a very close finish indeed after 200 miles of navigation and four special stages of over 60 miles on closed roads. Northern crew Robin Eyre-Maunsell/Norman Henderson (Rallye Imp) were third, followed by John Bridges/Paddy McGuire (1.3 Cooper S) and the Escort TCs of John O’Gorman/Noel Davin and Gerry McNamara/Austin Fraser.

This was a well supported event, with an entry of 70, including several leading Ulster crews, Robert McBurney/Esler Crawford (BMW 2002), running number one, crashed, and Ronnie McCartney/Mike Hart, number two in a 1.3 Cooper S also retired.

You can read the full Autosport Hellfire report here ==> Hellfire 1969