1969 EMC Rossahilly Sprint

It's that man again. Archie Phillips added, yet another “pot” to his already overflowing collection of silverware when he set the fastest time of the day at the Enniskillen sprint for the second time in succession.

1969 Rossahilly Sprint a great success.

This article is reproduced from Motorweek, 26th April, 1969.

A fine, if rather breezy day, a faster course, and fifty starters all combined to make Enniskillen Motor Club’s second Rossahilly sprint an unqualified success on Saturday last. Dicing in the classes was close, while there was no shortage of incidents to keep the surprisingly large crowd of spectators amused throughout the afternoon.

It almost goes without saying that the fastest time of the day was put up by Archie Phillips with his MG Midget, which hurtled round for three laps of the circuit to record 1 minute 53.15 seconds, over two seconds faster than second-place man, Jim McClements, who set a 1-55.23 in his Riley Elf.

Rob Pollock found time to demolish a few course markers on his way to 2nd place in the 1300cc Saloon Class.

Proceedings got underway with official practice, which saw a fair number of unscheduled manoeuvres on the part of several people, notably Dessie McCartney, who was giving his latest autocross creation, “the scoop”, its first public airing. Dessie appeared to be trying very hard from the word ‘go’, and his antics at the paddock corner were very good value indeed!

Several other people managed to modify the course in various ways, usually by thumping the course markers, which were of the inflatable rubber variety, and which were nice and easy to move out of the way without damaging the car, although one driver managed to run over a couple of these, bursting them with loud ‘pops’, much to the amusement of the spectators.


Class 1, for saloons up to 850cc, saw a great deal of spirited driving among the dozen or so contestants, all Mini mounted, and while nobody actually managed to put his car on it’s roof, it wasn’t for the want of trying, and one car, that of Leslie Dallas from Cookstown, was wearing the scars of an inversion during the BBN driving test at Bangor the previous night.

Fastest among these was Enniskillen man, J. Armstrong, who persuaded his Mini round in 2 minutes 25.84 seconds, with second man, Ron Neely one second behind. Neely had a good day, finishing second in the class handicap as well, this time to his co-driver, Miss Irene Neely, beaten by 0.81 seconds on handicap. Close stuff.

Class 2 was for 1 Litre saloons, and once again the entry was all Minis, the 970cc Cooper S of Andrew Irwin, one of the three Castlederg-type Irwins in the program, winning overall with a time of 2–11.31 while Harold Hagan really threw a 1000cc Mini Mark2 around to record 2–16.97 for second place. On handicap, the top positions in this class went to D. Canning and J. Cathcart respectively.

Dessie McCartney (right) and Robert Navin discuss ways of intimidating the opposition at Rossahilly.

The 1300cc category was a much more cosmopolitan affair, with Cooper Ss, Riley Elfs (or were they Wolseley Hornets?), an Escort GT and an NSU (I won’t mention that again) all in there somewhere.  Stars of this particular show were the Elfs of Jim McClements, Rob Pollock, and Mervyn Johnson, who were very much faster than anything else in the class. This didn’t stop them from trying, though, and the first official run, when all three were on the track together, was real laugh-a-minute stuff.

First, Jim McClements went straight on at the paddock corner under heavy braking, and then, a couple of seconds later, Rob Pollock got “all of a twitch” coming through the second chicane and spun wildly through the tyres and things to finish off pointing in the right direction to drive straight into the paddock. This put Mervyn Johnson, who had driven quickly but quietly, into first place in the class after the first rounds, but the other two both behaved themselves on their second rounds, finishing up: McClements first with 1–55.23 and Pollock second with 2–03.00.

Nelson Todd found his U2, rather too much of a straight-on machine, and was beaten by McCartney’s “flying tea tray” in the sports and Special category.


Class 4 for the large saloons was an Escort TC benefit, with Donegal man Robert Ward bringing his “half race version” home ahead of Cahal Curley’s severely understeering rally car (still wearing town and country tyres). George Windrum went quite well in practice with his alloy wheeled Sunbeam Rapier, only to spin on his first timed run, and then follow that up by breaking the car’s differential on his second attempt. Just one of those days I suppose.

Cahal Curley finished second in the large saloon class with his rally-type, Twin Cam Escort. The car was just as it finished the Circuit of Ireland Rally, and even ran on Town and Country, tyres!

In this class, a couple of gents in a tatty red Anglia kept everybody on their toes with their attempts to roll, or at least spin the car at the paddock corner, both succeeding on their second runs to the delight of marshals and spectators alike.

The 1300cc Sports car class was composed entirely of MG Midgets, but there are Midgets, and there are Midgets, and Harold McGarrity went very quickly indeed to beat Edward Scott by 0.4 seconds for top honours. Eric Scott, brother of Edward, had earlier tried very hard in their shared Midget before going off fairly comprehensively, and thereafter taking things rather easier.


There were only two runners in the over 1300 sports car class, and with one of these being Archie Phillips, the thing was something of a foregone conclusion. However, Derek McMahon, who himself is no slouch, kept the proceedings alive by putting in a couple of very spirited runs with his “far-from-suitable” MGB, driving over course-markers with gay abandon.

Pictured here on one of the rare occasions when it was travelling in a straight line, Dessie McCartney’s “scoop” provided lots of excitement for the spectators, and, we think, for Dessie!

Dessie McCartney had a win in the specials class, despite his aforementioned antics, and indeed, on his final run, seemed to find the thing so boring that he was only bothering to steer with one hand, using the other to hold on with. Nelson Todd brought his straight-on type U2 into second spot ahead of the ex-McCartney “bucket”, driven with great verve by both John McAlorum and its new owner, David Stuart.

Altogether, it was a most enjoyable meeting, well-run, and with the kind of friendly atmosphere that one ought to find at all club meetings. I didn’t hear of one protest being lodged, and it must be the first speed-event for a long time where there was no fighting over “who won what”.

Archie Phillips seemed at all times to have everything under control, and only seemed to be trying hard on his final, fastest, run, which would probably have been a couple of seconds faster had he not caught up with a slower car on his last lap.

It’s that man again. Archie Phillips added, yet another “pot” to his already overflowing collection of silverware when he set the fastest time of the day at the Enniskillen sprint for the second time in succession.

The next Enniskillen Sprint will be held at the same venue in a couple of months time, and will this time hold Restricted Status, so should attract a large entry. See you there!


Class 1:

  1. J. Armstrong (Mini), 2-25.84;
  2. R. Neely (Mini), 2-26.82.

Class 2:

  1. A. Irwin (Cooper 970S), 2-11.31;
  2. H. Hagan (Mini 1000), 2-16.97.

Class 3:

  1. J. McClements (Riley Elf), 1-55.23;
  2. R. Pollock (Wolseley Hornet), 2-03.00.

Class 4:

  1. R. Ward (Escort TC), 2-08.86,
  2. C. Curley (Escort TC), 2-10.76.

Class 5:

  1. H. McGarrity (Midget), 2-00.12;
  2. E. Scott (Midget), 2-00.59.

Class 6:

  1. J. A. Phillips (Midget), 1-53.15;
  2. D. McMahon (MGB), 2-08.52.

Class 7:

  1. D. McCartney (Scoop), 1-58.49;
  2. N. Todd (U2), 2-01.92.