1969 Hellfire Rally Autosport

John Bridges and Paddy McGuire (Cooper S) in full flight on the first special stage. They would finish in fourth place at the end.

Hellfire to Smith/Foott in Cooper S.

This report is reproduced from Autosport Magazine 25 December 1969.

MONDELLO PARK, Eire’s racing circuit, was the busy scene for the 10pm start of the Leinster Motor Club’s Hellfire Rally, the fourth round of the national rally championship, on Saturday, December 6. Special attraction was a free entry for the 1970 Gallaher Circuit of Ireland and 100 gallons of petrol for the winner, plus £5 for best on each stage.

Reigning Rally Champion Noel Smith (1.3 Cooper S) was relegated to number 3 thanks to five-times Ulster Champion Robert McBurney (BMW 2002) and another Ulsterman, Ronnie McCartney (1.3 Cooper S), starting at numbers 1 and 2 respectively. It was just a few miles from the start at Mondello to the first special section, 9.9 miles of tarred and loose-surfaced by-roads in the prosperous area of Co Kildare, sponsored by Wynn’s Charge.

Charlie Gunn/Harry McEvoy (Escort TC) had a slight blind moment, caused by inconsiderate use of an electronic flashgun on a bad bend, but nevertheless were fastest (12:22), followed by Pat Fay/Frank O’Donoghue (Gordini) 12:30, Gerry McNamara Austin Frazer (Escort TC) 12:37, and John Bridges/Paddy McGuire (1.3 Cooper S) 12:41. The latter had Paddy in the hot seat, as his usual navigator Brendan Doyle was clerk of the course on this occasion.

Special Section 2, sponsored by Irish Shell-BP, was only a few miles away at Allenwood Cross, and here Smith/Foott took the prize money at 9:26, just a fraction ahead of Ronnie McCartney/Ian McFarland (9:27) and Fay and Bridges each at 9:28.

Robert McBurney/Esler Crawford hit a gate on the first road section and retired their BMW 2002. Only seven clean sheet were noted at TP3, and only Smith/Foott and Robin Eyre/Maunsell/Norman Henderson (Rallye Imp) were clean at TP4. Smith/Foott dropped a minute at TP5, while most crews dropped marks before the supper stop at the Montague Motel near Port-Laoise.

Missing here was the Escort TC of Gunn/McEvoy, having to retire with alternator trouble. Robert Maharry/Kenny Johnston (1.3 Cooper S) were also out – Kenny just said the word “diff” when asked the cause of their retirement. Arnie Poole/Paul Phelan retired their 1.3 Cooper S with no oil pressure. Leaders on the road were Robin Eyre-Maunsell/Norman Henderson (9), from Pat Fay/Frank O’Donoghue (11), Noel Smith/Ricky Foott and Greg O’Gorman/Davin (Escort TC) at 13 each, and John Bridges/Paddy McGuire (17).

After supper the route headed back east with much navigation before the next special section. After drawing level on the road with Robin Eyre-Maunsell, Pat Fay went hedge-climbing and lost 4 mins near TP11. Special section 3 at Timolin, sponsored by Crossland Filters, was a fiasco, with not nearly enough officials on hand to marshal 17 miles of closed roads.

Crews were given the stage on their maps, and they set off on a high speed “find your own way” through a maze of narrow by-roads laced with junctions, intersections, etc. Mick Dolan/Jim O’Brien (Escort TC) had a great wind at this and, although the section was later scrubbed, they were given the fiver reward for their efforts.

The final section, sponsored by D & M Oils was a 17.5 miles dice around Spinan’s Hill near Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, taking in part of a section used in last year’s Gallaher Circuit of Ireland. Mick Dolan/Jim O’Brien were again fastest (21:33), Bridges was next (22:15), then came Smith (22:21), McNamara (22:49), Fay (22:54) and Eyre-Maunsell (23:06).

The last control, breakfast and results were all at Osberstown House Hotel, back near Mondello, where Smith/Foott checked in at around 7am to win their third championship event of the season by just 1 sec from Pat Fay/Frank O’Donoghue. Robin Eyre-Maunsell/Norman Henderson were best of the Ulstermen in a good third, and John Bridges/Paddy McGuire were fourth, also notching up best performance on the added special stage times without winning any one section. Special mention must be made of Charles Eyre-Maunsell, Ulster’s veteran all-rounder and father of Robin Eyre-Maunsell, who came out of his umpteenth retirement to finish ninth in a Hillman Hunter navigated by Ken Atkinson.

Best of the semi-experts was Gerry Ford/Frank Fennell (Escort TC), and the novices class went to Liam Murphy/W. Schnittger (Mini).

Brian Foley.

  1. N. T. Smith/R. H. Foott (1.3 Mini-Cooper S) 56.1 (road 22 + stages 34.1);
  2. P. N. Fay/F. P. O’Donoghue (Renault R8 Gordini) 56.2 (20 + 36.2);
  3. J. R. Eyre-Maunsell/N. Henderson (Hillman Rallye Imp) 574 (16 + 41.4);
  4. J. H. Bridges/P. V. McGuire (1.3 Mini-Cooper S) 61.4 (28 + 33.6);
  5. J. A. O’Gorman/N. N. Davin (Ford Escort TC) 67.5 (26 + 41.5);
  6. G. C. McNamara/A. Frazer (Ford Escort TC) 67.6 (30 + 37.6);
  7. M. Dolan/J. O’Brien (Ford Escort TC) 91.4 (46 + 45.4);
  8. R. J. McCartney/I. McFarland (1.3 Mini-Cooper S) 95.O (53 + 42.0);
  9. C. W. Eyre-Maunsell/K. W. Atkinson (Hillman Hunter) 103.3 (34 + 69.3);
  10. D. Yeates/D. Flanagan (1.3 Mini-Cooper S) 126.4 (46 + 80.4).

Semi-Experts:

  1. G. M. Forde/F. Fennell (Ford Escort TC) 215.2 (163 + 47.2);
  2. T. Noble/A. Elliott (1.3 Mini-Cooper S) 240.0 (160 + 80.0);
  3. T. P. Farrelly/R. Inglis (Renault R8 Gordini), 246.6 (128 + 120.6).

Novices:

  1. L. Murphy/W. Schnittqer (Mini) 21;
  2. A. Davis/B, Brophy (Mini) 147;
  3. D, Ryan/V. Ginty (Volkswagen) 156.

Eire Rally Championship positions alter four events.

Drivers: 1, N. T. Smith 59; 2, J. H. Bridges 48; 3, J. A. O’Gorman 38; 4, D. Yates 35; 5, M. E. Barry 31; 6, P. N. Fay 24.

Navigators: 1, R. H. Foott 59; 2, N. N. Davin 38; F. O’Donoghue 37; 4, B. Doyle 36; 5, D. Kavanagh 34; 6, D. Flanagan 24.