1969 QUB Autocross

Hero of the day was undoubtedly Ronnie White, who made the task of getting round in under two minutes look terribly easy.


This report and pictures by Richard St. John Young, is reproduced from Motorweek, 25th of October 1969.

Queens University Motor Club’s restricted autocross, held last Saturday at Ballywilliam House, Donaghadee, brought the Ulster Autocross Championship to a satisfactory conclusion, when Ronnie White was fastest of the 44 runners who attempted the dry and bumpy course.

David Stewart appears out of a cloud of dust like “the devil himself” during practice. He rolled the ex-McCartney “scoop” in a very polished manner on his first run, fortunately without injury.

In fact, White’s performance was made all the more remarkable by the fact he was the only one to break the two-minute barrier for his run.  He completed the three laps in 1 minute 57 seconds, almost four seconds faster than second man, Brian Rowan driving the McBurney Beach Buggy.  Brian’s first time of 2-00.8 was matched by Tom Lawther’s second in his Cooper S, thus making it a tie for the runners-up spot.

Malcolm Boyd’s rapid Cooper S leads the infamous Smith Special into the bumpy section.

Held in bright, if rather hazy, sunshine, the event attracted a large crowd of spectators, who were treated to the sight of cars bounding round what was initially a fairly smooth field, although it became rather badly rutted towards the end of the afternoon.

Practice proved little, except that Ronnie White is just too rapid for words these days, although John Jones equalled his practice time, only to run out of gears and things with the well-known “iron lung” (which has now been given a rather more earthy title) and became a non-starter on the event proper.

Dennis McKeag looks rather grim as he leads Roy McBurney’s Porsche powered Beach Buggy into the hollow.

Cars were sent off singly during the event, five seconds apart, with four cars being on the course at a time. The quickest in practice went first, and this bunch included, in addition to White and a couple of other Minis, Brian Rowan, who seems to be getting better each time out in the Porsche powered Beach Buggy, also driven by Roy and McBurney on the day.

McCoys Anglia, which didn’t get a complete run, leads the smart Renault 8S of Hugh O’Brien into the dip.

As expected, White set a cracking pace, going round in just under 2 minutes, the course having broken up quite severely round the esses at the bottom of the field during practice.  The second group to start included David Stewart, having his first competitive outing in the ex-McCartney “scoop”, and it was David who provided most of the excitement by performing a neat “loop the loop” right in front of the paying public.  He finished up upside down with a slightly battered scoop, and a rather surprised look on his face. A broken differential is believed to have been the cause.


This accident made the organisers take a good hard look at the course, and after some energetic thinking, the course was changed slightly to avoid some of the worst ruts, and, in addition, make it a little faster.  The first runners were given another go, the result being an improvement in Ronnie White’s time to, 1–57.8, an undisputed FTD, which only John Jones could have challenged, and he, with no gears, was in no position to do anything about it.

Sprites were rather thin on the ground, Brian Pinkerton being very much on his own. I wonder where the rollover bar went?

In the classes, Ron Mullan had the 1 Litre department more or less sewn up with a tour in 2–05.4, a time which eventually stood as his best as he collected a marker on his second run (which was slightly faster) and incurred a five second penalty.  

Both David Innis and his partner in crime R. Moore, incurred penalties on their first runs, but made no mistakes the next time to record 2–13.0 and 2–15.0 respectively.  They would finish second and third in the class with their hard working Cooper, which sports Hillman Imp wheels at the front – an inexpensive way to join the “12 inch” set.   Also in this class was Christine Nemec, the only lady present, who drove her nearly standard Hillman Imp very rapidly to collect the ladies award in 2–22.0.

Kevin McDonnell gave his well-prepared Mini Special a very successful first outing at Ballywilliam, coming third in the specials class.

Class 2 was for the flying 1300s, and proved to be a Tom Lawther benefit, the Cooper from Comber fairly flying round to record 2–00 .8 on his first run to win the class (and 2nd FTD).  Next was Dessie McCartney, his time of 2–03.4 in his rallying Cooper S was also recorded on his first run before the ruts got too enormous.

Joe Wilson’s time of 2–07.2 won him the Undergraduate Cup, and he was also fifth fastest in the class behind Malcolm Boyd and Norman Greenaway’s, similar Cooper S.  Also in this class was a certain gent in an NSU, who had the doubtful distinction of being the only runner to incur a penalty on both runs, while Thompson’s blue VW recorded the slowest time of the afternoon.  Former Riley Elf driver, Peter Little, appeared with a very nice looking “rally” Cooper S, but could only manage a time of 2-19.8.

Hero of the day was undoubtedly Ronnie White, who made the task of getting round in under two minutes look terribly easy.

Needless to say, Ronnie White won Class 3 for the over 1300s with his 1310cc Cooper, his second run being accomplished in 1–57.0.  Hill Scott opposite-locked his Escort TC round in 2–05.0 on his second run to take second spot, with Jackie Murray’s bucking VW a very good third in  2–07.6.

McBride’s Anglia was very enthusiastically driven all afternoon, but retired on its second run.

McBride’s Anglia looked to be on the point of falling over on several occasions, but never quite made it, while a similar, but incredibly immaculate car of John Lunn, couldn’t better 2–20.0, in spite of doing some marker thumping on the second round.  Raymond Carson’s rather tatty looking Anglia went well (it sports a Dublin registration!), but Denis McKeag looked surprisingly subdued in his Escort TC, although his time of 2–09.2 would suggest that he wasn’t exactly asleep.

J. Lunn’s immaculate Anglia didn’t appear to enjoy the rough stuff at all.

The “Specials” entry was quite good, and the class proved, with the unfortunate demise of the “scoop”, to be a Beach Buggy benefit, with Brian Rowan, putting it over brother-in-law, Roy McBurney, to win the class in 2–0 0.8.  Third was Kevin McDonnell, who gave his Mini special a successful maiden outing with a run in 2–05.6.  The 1100-based Smith Special again went all temperamental on the Stewart Brothers, and developed problems on the second runs, not going very well at all.

Hill Scott in his Escort TC was second in Class 3.

With a little time to spare after the “official business” was over, there were a few run-offs for the fastest eight competitors, during which (just to prove that it wasn’t a fluke) Ronnie White equalled his fastest time on a course which was beginning to resemble the surface of the moon,.  Dessie McCartney borrowed Kevin McDonald’s special for a very determined looking run but  unfortunately, we never did get to hear what his time was.

Dessie Boyd’s incredibly tatty Cooper charges round with its boot lid (the only part of the body without a dent in it), trailing.

Overall, the Queens autocross was a very enjoyable event and a fitting one with which to round off the Northern Ireland Autocross Championship, which incidentally has definitely been won by Dessie McCartney.  Clerk of the Course Philip Henderson did a great job, while Tim Buckler must also get a special mention as a man who kept us plied with useful information during the day.  An excellent commentary was provided by Bryan Thomas, and it would be fair to say that the spectators enjoyed themselves thoroughly. I know the competitors did!

John Jones’ famous “iron lung” has been renamed. Can anybody say why?



  1. R. White (1.4 BMC Cooper) 1-57.0;
  2. = T. Lawther (1.3 BMC Cooper) 2-00.8;
  3. = B. Rowan (1.6 Beach Buggy) 2-00.8;
  4. R. McBurney (1.6 Beach Buggy) 2-02.4;
  5. D. McCartney (1.3 BMC Cooper) 2-03.4;
  6. M. Boyd (1.3 BMC Cooper) 2-04.2;
  7. = N. Greenaway (1.3 BMC Cooper) 2-05.0;
  8. = H. Scott (1.6 Escort TC) 2-05.0

Class 1:

  1. R. Mullan (1.0 BMC Cooper) 2-05.4;
  2. D. Innis (1.0 BMC Cooper) 2-13.0;
  3. R. Moore (1.0 BMC Cooper) 2-15.0.

Class 2:

  1. T. Lawther (1.3 BMC Cooper) 2-00.8;
  2. D. McCartney (1.3 BMC Cooper) 2-03.4;
  3. N. Greenaway (1.3 BMC Cooper) 2-05.0.

Class 3:

  1. R. White (1.4 BMC Cooper) 1-57.0;
  2. H. Scott (1.6 Escort TC) 2-05.0;
  3. J. Murray (1.6 Volkswagen) 2-07.6.

Class 4:

  1. B. Rowan (1.6 Beach Buggy) 2-00.8;
  2. R. McBurney (1.6 Beach Buggy) 2-02.4;
  3. K. McDonnell (1.3 Mini Special) 2-05.6.

Ladies Award: Miss C. Nemec (0.9 Hillman Imp) 2-22.0

Undergraduate Cup: J. Wilson (1.3 BMC Cooper) 2-07.2