Leinster MC Hellfire Rally 1969

Outright winners were Noel Smith and Ricky Foote with their very well prepared and driven Cooper S.

Reprinted from Motor Week December 13 1969

SMITH IS HELLFIRE SURPRISE PACKET

With our own rally season at something approaching a standstill, quite a few Northern competitors ventured down South for the Leinster M.C.’s “Hellfire” rally run over a “traditional” navigation cum special stage route on half-inch sheets 15 and

With spotlights blazing, Ronnie McCartney and Ian McFarland rush up to the tight bridge on SS2.

16.  This event did, of course, count for the Southern Rally championship, so all the big names in Southern rallying were also on the list, making the 66-strong entry one of the best for any Irish event since the Texaco in May.  Running at N0. l, and a hot favourite for outright victory, was Robert McBurney, who had Beattie Crawford in the hot seat of the BMW 2002, while the next man up was Ronnie McCartney, whose ex-works Cooper S was navigated by Ian McFarland.  He came at short notice when Mike Harte was unable to make it.  Noel Smith had his familiar white Cooper S at No. 3, while John Bridges, with the Steve Griffin prepared car was running No. 4.

SECRET WEAPON

A whole gaggle of Escort TCs took the next numbers, with Charlie Gunn, Mick Dolan, John O’Gorrnan and Gerry McNamara, driving, the last ‘named having imported a secret weapon, in the familiar shape of Austin Frazer in order to put one over his fellow Escort men.  Robin Eyre-Maunsell and Norman Henderson were at No. 9, with the ex-works Rally Imp, a car which was to frighten the daylights out of more than one Ford driver before the night was out.

Everybody thought Robin Eyre-Maunsell had won, until the final results were announced. Robin and Norman Henderson put up the best performance on the road sections, and were very rapid on the special stages. The very strange timing on the final stage dropped them right out of the running. They eventually finished third overall.

Farther down the list, Charles Eyre-Maunsell had the much-rallied grey Hillman Hunter out once again with Ken Atkinson in the “chair”, while also running in the Experts class Were Jim Campbell / Brian Dorman in the former’s ex-works Imp (the entire 1969 works Imp team was present).  Fred Wadsworth and Dessie Blayney with their much used Cortina GT; the BMW of David Agnew, and the Beggs / Wilkinson Lotus Cortina.  Among the Semi-Experts were several Northerners as well, including the Escort TC of Chris McCaul / Oliver Hadden, the Cooper S of Sean Campbell / John Gilleece, Trevor Noble’s Cooper, the J0hnst0n-SandsCortina all the way from Enniskillen, and Malcolm Pedlow’s 998 Cooper.

All these were ranged against a formidable collection of locals, headed by Gerry Forde and Frank Fennell, who were sharing Forde’s gaily coloured Escort TC.

HANDY

The start was very handily situated at Mondello Park, which, incidentally, is a pretty handy place for starting rallies, spoilt only by the marked lack of light in the paddock!  A short road section led straight into the first special stage, a nine-miler sponsored by Wynn’s “Charge” (whatever that is) with a bogey time of 10 mins.  Several people had adventures here, but quickest was the Escort TC of Charlie Gunn who went through in 12.22, some eight seconds quicker than the second fastest man Pat Fay, whose Renault Gordini was very rapid indeed.

Gerry McNamara and Austin Frazer hurtle through the night in their Escort TC

Gerry McNamara made third quickest here with Bridges fourth, Smith fifth,‘ and Forde / Fennell the quickest of the non-experts sixth. Of the “invaders”, McBurney was actually tenth fastest after Eyre-Maunsell, after a spot of excitement, while Ronnie McCartney had a nasty moment when all his lights went out.

This, however, was rectified after a fashion, and he was able to continue with spots, but sans headlights, and eventually made eleventh quickest.

STAGE PLACINGS

Wynn’s Charge stage N0. 1
1st Gunn/McEvoy (Escort TC) 12.22; 2nd Fay/O’Donoghue (Renault Gordini) 12.30; 3rd, McNamara/Frazer (Escort TC) 12.37; 4th Bridges/Maguire (Cooper S) 12.41. 5th Smith/Foote (Cooper S) 12.44; 6th, Forde/Fennell (Escort TC) 12.45; 7th O’Gorman/Davin (Escort TC) 12.50. 8th Eyre Maunsell/Henderson (Imp) 12.54; 9th Barry/Kavanagh (Esc0rt TC) 12.55; 10th McBurney/Crawford (BMW) 13.01.

Ill luck once again befell the Robert McBurney / Beattie Crawford BMW 2002ti, seen here at the bridge on SS2.

Stage Two came almost immediately, this being an eight miler with plenty to keep everybody more than interested, and a rather “nadgery” bridge over the Grand Canal, which proved very popular with the surprisingly large crowd of spectators.  This bridge lost many people a lot of time, as did an unexpected left-hander a few hundred yards further on, and, although there was nothing to hit, there was plenty of straight-on-and reverse to keep the public happy, and put the crews in bad humour.

Poor McBurney was the first to fall foul of these, losing a lot of time reversing out of lanes and back onto the not-so-straight and narrow, while most of the other Northerners did something similar. In fact
one or two of the locally based crews seemed to know the stage much too well, one Escort in particular, getting through the bad bit so quickly that one would be excused for thinking that maybe he had seen it all before!

The start at Mondello Park had plenty of atmosphere, but little illumination.

GRIEF

A couple of people came to grief here as well, the Campbell-Gileece Cooper seizing solid, and having to be abandoned, while
the Greer-Bruton Opel Kadett ended up on top of a bank.

Shell stage No. 2

1st Smith/Foote (Cooper S) 9.26; 2nd McCartney/McFarland (Cooper S) 9.27; 3rd= Bridges/Maguire (Cooper S) & Fay/O’Donoghue (Gordini) 9.28; 5th Gunn/McEvoy (Escort TC) 9.31; 6th McNamara/Frazer (Escort TC) 9.40; 7th
Dolan/O‘Brien (Escort TC) 9.41; 8th Eyre Maunsell/Henderson (Imp) 9.44; 9th Forde/Fennell (Escort TC) 9.45; 10th Barry/Kavanagh (Escort TC) 9.47.

Third man home in the Semi-Experts section was Trevor Noble, seen here leaping the bridge on SS4.

A couple of hours navigation in and around Co. Kildare brought a somewhat reduced field to the supper halt near Monasterevan, where a bite could be had at rather high prices – not the fault of the organisers. Somebody should tell the hostelry concerned what is required next time – if there is one.

OUT OF IT

By this time, quite a few familiar faces had disappeared. Robert McBurney and Beattie Crawford had vanished from the scene, as had Arnie Poole / Paul Phelan, driving Alec’s ex-works Cooper, who had run out of bearings shortly after SS2.  In fact, the bearings could be heard before the exhaust note as the car approached on the stage itself, s0 it came as no surprise to hear that they were out of the running.  This was a pity as they had been putting up some good times, and the “Racing Champion of Guiana” looked all set for a place.  Jim Campbell too had fallen by the wayside, with the gearbox bothers in the ex-Malkin Imp, and sundry others were showing signs of contact with the scenery.
Another navigation loop, brought the field to the last two special stages, a pair of seventeen milers, situated very close to one another. In fact, SS3, although by all reports very exciting for competitors, had to be scrubbed due to poor arrowing which made it very much a navigation exercise as well as a driving one.  Special Stage Four, however, was different, being a modification of the Spinan’s Hill section used on the Gallaher Circuit, and sponsored by D&M Motor Oil.

Robert McBurney and Ronnie McCartney watch while Noel Smith and friends play around with the lights on the winning car.

QUICKEST

Mick Dolan was quickest on this one, as he had been on SS3, with Bridges and Smith next in line ahead of McNamara, although in the opinion of many competitors Robin Eyre-Maunsell, who had been going like the proverbial clappers in his Imp was quicker than most of them.  Indeed, if this was true, then he surely must have won the event outright, since his road performance was competitive to say the least, and the Imp very well suited to the conditions.  Poor Malco1m‘Pedlow had an unfortunate moment on this stage when, having caught up with the competitor in front of him, he pulled out to overtake only to collect a stone through his Cooper’s windscreen which made for an uncomfortable ride back to the finish.

In fact, although it was an enjoyable event in many ways, the Ulster contingent didn’t have such a nice time, with the Ronnie Johnson/Bryce Sands Cortina finishing up hung on a chunk of masonry after the driver fell asleep on the final short run into the finish, while Fred Wadsworth and Dessie Blayney arrived in a rather sorry looking Cortina on the end of a tow rope.

The Ronnie Johnston / Bryce Sands Cortina survived until the run in from the last special stage, where some masonry was clobbered.

D&M Oil Stage N0. 4 —
lst Dolan/O’Brien 21.33; 2nd Bridges/Maguire 22.15; 3rd Smith/Foote 22.21; 4th McNamara-Frazer 22.49; 5th Fay/O’Donoghue 22.54; 6th Eyre-Maunsell/Henderson 23.06; 7th, McCartney/McFarland 23.20; 8th O’Gorman/Davin 23.50; 9th Forde/Fennell 24.12; 10th Pedlow-Harkness (Cooper)

DINNER
After a somewhat protracted finish, made pleasant by the large range of refreshments available at Osberstown House, the results were announced, with Noel Smith as the overall winner, a fact that caused no little surprise among competitors, most of whom expected Robin Eyre-Maunsell to come out on top.  As it was, Pat Fay sneaked the Renault into second overall, by virtue of a very good road performance, with the Belfast pair in third place overall.

As we go to press, there is still a certain amount of doubt in some minds as to the times on certain stages, but the results appear to stand, with Smith as a very worthy winner, his performance being very neat indeed, with ‘rarely, if ever a wheel wrong.  Among the Semi-experts, Forde and Fennell had consistently been in the top 10 with their Escort TC, and, despite some pretty heavy road penalties, took the “semis” award from Des Bradley’s Cortina GT. with Trevor Noble, that “man from Manor House”, or one of ’em, third with his Cooper.  Pat Farrelly’s three cylindered Renault Gordini managed fourth.

RESULTS

Experts:

1st N Smith/R Foote (Cooper S) 56.1 mks;

2nd P Fay/F O’Donoghue (Renault Gordini) 56.2 mks;

3rd R Eyre-Maunsell/N Henderson (Rally Imp) 57.4 mks;

4th J Bridges/P J Maguire (Cooper S) 61.4 mks;

5th J O’Gorman/N Davin (Escort TC) 67.5 mks;

6th G McNamara/A. Frazer (Escort TC) 67.6 mks;

7th M Dolan/J O’Brien (Escort TC) 91.4 mks;

8th R McCartney/I McFarland (Cooper S‘) 95.0 mks;

9th C Eyre-Maunsell/K Atkinson (Hillman ~ Hunter‘) 103.3 mks;

10th D Yeates/D Flanagan (Cooper S) 127-4 mks.
Semi Experts:

1st G Forde/ F. Fennell (Escort TC) 215.2 mks;

2nd D Bradley/G Richardson (Cortina GT) 221.7 mks;

3rd T Noble/A Elliott (Cooper S) 240.0 mks;

4th P Farrelly/R Inglis (Renault Gordini) 248.6mks;

5th Miss M Fitzgerald-Smith/C Orr (Rally Imp) 266.4 mks;

6th M Pedlow/R Harkness (Cooper) 274.1 mks;

7th C McCaul/O Hadden (Esc0rt TC) 277.9 mks;

8th P Downes/J Newman (Mini) 438.4 mks;

9th R Mills/G Mills (Cooper) 443.3 mks;

10th E Oliver/D Turkington (Rally Imp) 538.9mks.

Novices (road penalties only)
1, L. Murphy/W Schnittger (Mini) 21mks;
2, A Davis/B Brophy (Mini) 14.7mks;
3, D Ryan/V Ginty (VW- 1200) 15.6mks;
4, J Kearney/T Griffin (Mini) l6.2mks;
5, J Leonard/T Gorman (Capri GT) 20.5mks;
6, P O’Reilly/T O’Reilly (Cooper) 21.7 mks;
7, M Barnett/M Kirby(Mini) 40.2mks.