1970 Armagh Driving Test

John Jones (left) and Ronnie Mullen seem to be enjoying things.


Report and pictures by Ester Crawford.  Reproduced from Motorweek 21 February 1970.

After their first test meeting of the season at Maghaberry had been spoiled by snow and ice, Armagh Motor Club decided to retain the same tests for their February event last Saturday. These tests proved to be excellent and a very close-fought afternoon’s sport resulted with only 1.2 seconds separating the three fastest drivers.

Ronnie Mullen applies a touch oof the “opposites” to his GP Beach Buggy.

It was Charlie Irwin who eventually finished third, but if he lost the event anywhere, it was in the first test where he had to take a second cut at reversing into a box and had a time of 36.2 seconds in his 998 Cooper.  This compared very unfavourably with Ian Woodside’s 30.8 seconds, in his MG Midget, and Ken Shields’ 31.0 in his pokey VW1500.

Charles Crawford’s MG Midget displays a bit of body-roll.

Woodside had another good run in test two with 34.6 but Irwin was obviously not put off by his initial fluff and took only 0.4 seconds longer.  By this time, Albert Lucas’ 848 Mini sounded very potent indeed, but it transpired that the reason for this impression was a detached silencer.  On top of this, Albert was driving in carpet slippers, after allegedly pulling a muscle in his foot in a badminton match!

Wilson Hyde looks over his shoulder as he takes his Imp through a reverse “wiggle-woggle”.

Test three obviously suited Ken Shields who was the best with 49.3 seconds, while Ian Woodside and Charles Crawford (MG Midget) both had 50.0.  By this time, Woodside was leading but his ambitions took a knock on test four when the sliding tail of the car tipped a Pylon and he was 4.8 slower than Ken Irwin, with Crawford a second faster.  Ken Irwin now looked like the man to watch as he had been going very consistently and with no mistakes or penalties.  However, the last test of the first lap went easily to brother Charlie with 60.6 seconds. Ken took 62.0 and Ian Woodside, 63.4.

Norman Ferguson seems more tranquil than usual in his Mini 1000.


At this stage Ken Irwin was indeed leading the field with a total of 223.6.  Second was Charles Crawford on 224.2, third Woodside 225.6 and fourth Charlie Irwin on 226.4, so it was still anybody’s event.

The nose of Ian Woodside’s MG Midget dips under braking in a box.

Ken Irwin started off the second lap in fine style with 30.2 to Ian Woodside’s 31.0, while Charlie Crawford dealt his chances a severe blow by clouding a pylon. Ron Mullen now discovered the reason for his beach buggy’s rather peculiar behaviour and a large stone was removed from under the brake pedal, which made the car stop and go a lot more effectively.

An unidentified Cooper displays full lock.

Ken Irwin was again best on test seven, but by just 0.2 from brother Charlie.

It was the turn of Charles Crawford to set the pace in test eight, but Ken Irwin kept up the good work and was only a fifth of a second slower.  It was again Crawford a fifth of a second faster than Irwin on test nine and then in the last test Charlie Irwin showed his superiority by very nearly 2 full seconds ahead of Ian Woodside, while Ken Irwin was nearly 3 seconds slower still.

Charlie Irwin looking well enough pleased with his third place overall.

This slow final test nearly cost Ken the win but when the results were added up he had still 0.8 in hand over Woodside to give him probably the best success of his career so far.  Third was Charlie Irwin only 0.4 behind Woodside with Charles Crawford fourth and Ken Shields fifth. In the classes John Jones had a good win with a brand-new 848 Mini after a long layoff from test driving, and beat Albert Lucas by a nine second margin.

Charlie Irwin of course won his class, a long way ahead of Norman Ferguson, and Wilson Hyde had a class to himself and could hardly have failed to win it.  Ken Shields took the VW class, well clear of Derek Boyd, and despite a slipping fan-belt in his wife’s Vauxhall Viva. Lee ~Lucas had no trouble taking the big saloon class.

David Bell’s MG Midget scuttles between the pylons.


Class 1 (General Classification)

  1. K. Irwin (MG Midget) 445.2;
  2. I. Woodside (MG Midget) 446.0;
  3. C. Irwin (BMC Cooper) 446.4
  4. C. S. Crawford (MG Midget) 455.0
  5. W. K. Shields (VW 1500) 456.1;

Class 2

  1. J. D. Jones (BMC Mini 848) 493.0;
  2. A. J. H. Lucas (BMC Mini 848) 502.0.

Class 3

  1. C. Irwin (BMC Cooper) 446.4;
  2. N. Ferguson (BMC Mini 1000) 506.6.

Class 4

  1. W. Hyde (Hillman Imp) 581.1.

Class 5

  1. W. K. Shields (VW 1500) 456.1;
  2. D. D. Boyd (VW 1500) 495.6.

Class 6

  1. E. A. Lucas (Vauxhall Viva) 544.2;
  2. R. T. McCurry (Cortina GT) 720.0.

Class 7

  1. I. Woodside (MG Midget) 446.0;
  2. C. S. Crawford (MG Midget) 455.0
Billy McNish pressing on with his Wife’s Mini.