1969 Ken Wharton Trophy

Ronnie McCartney rounds a pylon in his Mk2 Cooper S.

Motor Week preview of team departing for the Ken Wharton 1st November 1969.

The report below has been reproduced from Autosport Magazine 13 November 1969
Report by Mike Dodman

Ken Wharton Memorial tests to Ulster – for the eighth time

THE result of the Ken Wharton Memorial Team Autotests organised by the Hagley & District Light Car Club on November 1 was never really in any doubt.  After the first test, the Northern Ireland team of Ronnie McCartney (1.3 Cooper S), Ken Shields (VW) and Roger Cree (Sprite) held a 5 secs lead over Eire, which they had extended to 11 secs after the four tests and so took the cup home for the eighth time.

Ken Shields put in another smooth and penalty-free performance to win the class in his VW 1500.

Held at the Bass, Mitchells & Butlers Brewery at Smethwick, in Birmingham, the event attracted teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Eire, Guernsey and Sweden.  The Eire team of Des Cullen (Midget), Larry Mooney (VW) and Leslie Vard (Cooper S) were second.

The reigning champions, England, who were third this time, had their hopes shattered during the first test when both Norman Morley in his very potent MG 1300 and Doug Powell in his Cooper S incurred 10 secs penalties for hitting bollards, leaving only Denis Beare (Sprite) unpenalised.  With engine screaming and tyres howling, Cree scorched round to set the best time in the test, a feat he repeated on the next one and which led him eventually to Best Time of the Day (BTD).

The second test saw cars leaving the line in pairs to compete side-by-side, an interesting idea which increases spectator interest by providing a definite “ winner” of each duel.  The test was run twice, with competitors swapping positions on the second run to even out any possible advantage to one side.

Dick Hedlund from Sweden gets his works-loaned MG Midget sideways before having to retire with gearbox troubles.

Dick Hedlund, who had been gradually getting used to his works-loaned Midget, had gearbox troubles and was forced to retire, his place in the Swedish team being taken by substitute Dennis Crome in his Sprite.

Tests 3 and 4 were perfect for the Cooper S brigade, and Doug Powell showed himself master with two superb runs, although he was chased hard by that ace autotester McCartney.  Reserve Garth Weaver (Austin 1300) had to be co-opted into the Guernsey team for the final test after Brian Rabey had the misfortune to roll his similar car while attempting a reverse spin turn.

Mike Dodman.


1969 Ken Wharton Trophy Team Competition Results:

Best Time of Day: R. Cree (1.3 Austin-Healey Sprite). 228.8 s.

Class winners: R. Cree; K. Shields (1.5 VW 1500), 240.3 s; and F. Sager (1.3 ‘Mini-Cooper S), 233.5 s. .

Overall Team Results:

1, Northern Ireland: Cree, Shields and R. McCartney (‘1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 707.3s;

2, Eire: D. Cullen (1.3 MG Midget), L. Mooney (1.5 VW 1500) and L. Vard (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 718.5s;

3, England: D. Beare (1.1 Austin-Healey Sprite), N. Morley (1.3 MG 1300) and D. Powell (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 725.5s;

4, Scotland: R. Wilson (1.3 Austin-Healey Sprite), W. Findley (1.3 Morris 1300) and J. Cook (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 763.9s;

5. Guernsey: D. Lowe (1.3 MG Midget), B. Rabey (1.3 Austin 1300) and M. Ray (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 764.3s;

6, Sweden: R. Hedlund (1.3 MG Midget). R. Wallin (1.5 VW 1500) and Sager 792.1s;

7, Wales: M. Flint (1.1 Austin Healey Sprite), R. Russell (1.3 Ford Escort GT) and J. Larkin (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 812.9s.


Motorweek November 15 1969

We assumed – wrongly – that the full results of the Ken Wharton Memorial competition would be published in full in one or other of the national sporting papers and consequently we did not chase them up. Rather belatedly we are publishing them in full this week and we are grateful to Billy Orr, who travelled with the Northern Ireland team, for a detailed table of times for the five tests.

Billy also added his comments on the event which we print below. He was particularly impressed by the good fellowship (which MotorWeek sampled on the night of their departure) of the lads and he believes this had a lot to do with their success. He says,

“It was a fine performance against opposition which gets tougher each year. Eire is always hard t beat and our battle with them — though invariably friendly – was not finally resolved until the last car had crossed the finish line, with a sigh of relief from us and cheerful resignation from Les, Des, and Larry”.

“It was nice to get the cup back again for the eighth time, in addition to receiving two class awards (beautiful inscribed stainless steel trays) and the best overall. This was a meritorious performance by Roger on his first appearance. Without decrying his emergence as top driver, it is worthy of note that Ronnie would have pipped him by 0.6 seconds had he not been penalised 10 seconds for a (very) marginal line fault in one of the tandem” tests.

“Still, it was a team performance, despite the brilliant individual efforts and the team spirit was magnificent at all times which made my job easy as team manager, co-ordinator or what have you!”

“Although Harold Hagan was reserve this time, his enthusiasm and co-operation was an inspiration and when he stops competing about 30 years from now some club will get a superlative results officer!”

“Ken Shields, a seasoned veteran making his second appearance must have alarmed many of the folks at home by belching clouds of smoke. The reason is still a mystery but the malady did not impair his times one iota and he drove really Well to finish sixth overall”.

“It’s a pity the journey home on the motorway was not televised — that would really have been a thriller! However modestly it may have been suggested that the N.I. victory was attributable to luck, the simple truth is that it was a direct result of superb technique and admirable skill by each member of a first class team”.

“It is encouraging to learn that this triumph against the cream of international competition is being recognised by the Lord Mayor of Belfast who has invited the team to receive congratulations in his Parlour at the City Hall on Thursday November 20 at 10:30 a.m.”

Class Winners:

Class 1, Roger Cree (Northern Ireland) 228.8;
Class 2, Ken Shields (Northern Ireland) 240.3;
Class 3, Fergus Sager (Sweden) 233.5.

Overall Classification:

  1. Roger Cree 228.8;
  2. Fergus Sager 233.5;
  3. Doug Powell 236.3;
  4. Leslie Vard (Eire) 236.4;
  5. Ronnie McCartney 238.2;
  6. Ken Shields 240.3;
  7. Larry Mooney (Eire) 241.6.
Class 1 = Sports Cars, Class 2 = Large Saloons, Class 3 = Small Saloons