1969 DMC Driving Test

"Ringmaster" Ronnie Trouton calls the meeting to order while winner Robert Woodside waits for the "off" in his Beach Buggy.

This report is reproduced from MOTORWEEK dated 24 May 1969

Problems at Dungannon Driving Tests.

On Wednesday night last, Dungannon MC held a driving test meeting in the centre of Moy, to the accompaniment of loud cheers from the large crowd of spectators, who gathered to watch the proceedings.

The tests were held in conjunction with Moy’s festival week, and attracted an entry of 33 drivers, 15 of whom were in the Experts class, and seeking points towards the championship, while the remainder were equally divided between semi-experts and novices.

It was originally intended to lay on four tests, using the main street and surrounding pieces of car park, but, due to a last minute misunderstanding, the organisers were left with only the roadway to play with, so only two tests were arranged, each one to be attempted four times by each competitor.

Derek Boyd tried hard in his VW but without much success in a test that seemed to have been designed for “Spridgets”, buggies and the like.

Problems again arose, however, due to the fast disappearing light, and the end result was that, while the championship runners got their full quota of four runs each, the other two classes had to make do with only two. This angered one or two people, but circumstances seem to have been against the Dungannon MC all the way, as far as the meeting was concerned, and the officials did the only thing they could if the event was to remain a Championship qualifier.


However, back to the event. This turned out to be something of a close thing in Class One, between Robert Woodside in ‘the now’ infamous Beach Buggy and Roger Cree with his potent Sprite the Sprite making up a lot of ground on the tight “here we go round the, pylon” part of test one, but losing it to the Beach Buggy when it came to the part calling for instant “end swopping” which is where the very short Buggy really comes into its own, helped enormously by Woodside’s excellent handling of it.

Third behind these two was Ian Woodside, with his Midget, looking none the worse for its rally experiences of last Friday, (the Texaco Rally) while Ken Irwin put up a very good performance with his Sprite to take fourth and haul himself well up the championship ladder. Harold Hagan put in his customary polished performance, but indulged in a spot of inadvertent pylon bashing which dropped him to fifth ahead of another Irwin, Charlie this time, who was first of the Mini brigade with his Cooper.

Third place overall went to Ian Woodside who leaves the line on Test 2.

The fact that these weren’t really ‘Mini-type tests‘ was borne out by Ronnie McCartney’s seventh place in the “S”, although the rather funny first gear (a lightweight component with several teeth removed!) may well have had something to do with this as well. Final point scorer was yet another Cooper pilot, this time David Grant, who was some 40 points behind Woodside.


Top Semi-expert was Victor Lecky, who put his very hot sounding Mini through, 9 points ahead of the similar car of Norman Ferguson. Yet another Irwin, Andrew this time, came third in his Cooper, while fourth Was Hill Scott, who put up a fine performance with what must have been the most unsuitable car present, a Twin Cam Escort.

Frank Robinson sits on the line in his Beach Buggy before the start of the test.

Among the novices, I. Ferguson took the honours with his Mini, with Leslie Dallas second with his Mini, which stayed right way up this time. R. McCandless brought his Midget in third in front of Brian Powell’s Cooper.

Although some of the competitors undoubtedly weren’t too happy, the large crowd of spectators most certainly were. It isn’t often you hear anyone getting applause at a motoring event these days, most crowds preferring to suffer, or marvel, depending on their point of view, in silence, but this one was very vocal indeed, and I’m sure the “lads” appreciated the gesture.

While on the subject of the Dungannon MC it would seem as though it wasn’t their week, since their Closed Autocross, which was to have been held last night, had to be cancelled, due to field trouble. They will however, be putting on a really first rate show on June 12, when they hold their restricted Championship Autocross, at a new and very fast venue at Cookstown. This new field is, I am assured, the greatest thing since the mini-skirt and the course will be very smooth, very fast and wide enough to allow cars to start in pairs, which should give everybody something to watch.


Class 1:

  1. R. Woodside (Beach Buggy) 237.5;
  2. R. Cree (A-H Sprite) 240.3;
  3. I. Woodside (MG Midget) 253.4;
  4. K. Irwin (A-H Sprite) 253.5;
  5. H. Hagan (MG Midget) 260.2;
  6. C. Irwin (Cooper) 263.5;
  7. R. McCartney (Cooper S) 275.4;
  8. D. Grant (Cooper S) 276.1.

Class 2:

  1. V. Lecky (Mini) 142.4;
  2. N. Ferguson (Mini) 151.3
  3. A. Irwin (Cooper) 160.7
  4. H. Scott (Escort TC) 167.7

Class 3:

  1. I. Ferguson (Mini) 167.0;
  2. L. Dallas (Mini) 174.0;
  3. R. McCandless (MG Midget) 178.3;
  4. B. Powell (Cooper) 182.5.