A Golden Voice – and a hoard of silver.
This profile by Richard St John Young was first published in Motorweek dated 15th February 1969.
Since the 500 Club revived the Production Sports Car Class two years ago, many talented new drivers have appeared in this category, and none more so than our Profile subject for this week Harold McGarrity.
Harold entered his first race in August 1967 with an MGB, finishing second in the “Prodsports” handicap and third in his heat of the general handicap. Certainly a successful debut with the near standard MGB and one which encouraged him to carry on with the B for the rest of the season.
At Bishopscourt later in the month, he did nothing spectacular and finished somewhere in midﬁeld, but at Phoenix Park in September Harold “made good”, fooling the handicappers completely and taking home a veritable stack of silverware, much to his delight.
So much for his first season of motor racing, but what of the man himself? Harold McGarrity was born in Kesh, Co. Fermanagh, 34 years ago. His family has been connected with motoring for a long time, his father was in the motor trade in Kesh before the family moved up to Belfast in 1953, and
Harold and brother Patsy, who is also very well known in motor sporting circles for his Formula Ford exploits, started up in business in 1957, opening Savoy Motors.
Patsy, of course, has done a great deal of (very) competitive motor cycling over the last few years but apart from a bit of karting, Harold had not turned a wheel in anger until August ’67. Last year Harold changed to “B”s and campaigned a very pretty bronze car, which although pretty standard at the start of the season, was progressively modiﬁed (by Harold himself, incidentally) through the year, finishing up as a fully fledged racer.
With this car Harold had his fair share of successes in 1968, scoring a couple of wins at Bishopscourt and places at Kirkistown and Mondello Park. Towards the end of the year Harold had a couple of outings in an MG Midget and scored several successes, although he admits that he is still getting used to what is, after all, a very different car to the heavier MGB and is conﬁdent of going a good deal quicker in ’69.
By the time the season begins, he hopes to have done a lot more to the engine, and with the Midget now the “in” car to go production sports car racing with, Harold must surely have a good chance of success.
Anybody who goes to the 500 Club’s post-race dances at the Wellington Park Hotel will know that Harold has a very fine singing voice, but it is not so widely known that he has done a fair amount of professional singing, appearing in several operas. At any rate I didn’t know until, in answer to my standard “Have you ever frightened yourself in a racing car”? question, he replied that, although he hadn’t yet managed to frighten himself during a race, his worst moment came when he was singing in an opera, and discovered that he was singing half a tone higher than everybody else! I don’t know much about music but it sounds rather horrific to me!
As far as ambition in the sport are concerned Harold is not one of those people one meets who has his sights firmly set on a drive with Team Lotus but rather is quite happy with sports car racing, his one ambition to beat Archie Phillips in a straight race!
In common with many other drivers, his favourite circuit is Bishopscourt, hardly surprising since he scored two wins there last year.
Harold doesn’t particularly enjoy racing in the wet either, but then, who does, and finds the Midget especially difficult under these conditions.
Married, with five children, three girls and two boys, Harold McGarrity enjoys his motor racing to the full, and talks about retiring from the sport in a year or so to become an entrant – but I wonder. So many people have said they will retire “at the end of this year” but somehow there is always something that stops you from retiring when the end of the year arrives, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see that entry “Savoy Motors, Driver H. McGarrity” in quite a few race programmes yet.