CARS BEAT KARTS AT EMC SPRINT
This report is reproduced from Motorweek 25th April 1970. Report and pictures by Richard St John Young.
Last Saturday’s Erne Trophy Sprint saw the “cars versus karts” question answered, temporarily at least, by an outright win for Derek Boyd’s Crosslé Formula Ford car, which beat Raymond Lyons kart by some 1.4 seconds for fastest time of the day.
Surprisingly far down the list was Archie Phillips, the familiar white MG Midget could only make it to 4th overall (3rd amongst the cars) a couple of seconds behind Boyd, and Brian Kelly’s Formula Ford Lotus, despite looking altogether hairier than he has in the past.
Rossahilly was a rather damp place on the morning of the event, and the soggy surface, which fortunately dried out as the day wore on, combined with rather a lot of mud, to make the going very slippery during practice. As it turned out, there wasn’t much grip to be found during the official runs either.
Practice saw Archie Phillips in front, taking 2-15.8 seconds to do his three laps, a time which was equalled by Brian Kelly, driving his Formula Ford Lotus 51. Boyd was very cautious with a time in the late 2-20s and with no really rapid saloons, it looked very much as though these two were going to be the only contenders for the overall honours.
By the time the first official runs came round, however, the positions had changed slightly, but more of that later.
Class one was for 850 cc saloons, and not surprisingly was composed entirely of BMC Minis, in various stages of tune and repair, and with the familiar red car of Ron and Irene Neely suffering from collywobbles, it developed into a needle match between George Thompson and Rob Pollock, driving the same rapid Oselli Mini. Thompson was quickest on the first run, when the mighty Rob did something strange, but the second time out, he made no mistakes and took the class by 1.2 seconds with a time of 2–26.6.
Mervyn and David Johnston driving the latter’s Mini, had a grand scrap for third place with honour and all sorts of things (including the entry fee) depending on the outcome, Mervyn eventually coming out ahead.
The 851-1000 Class was well supported and was pretty well dominated by the Michael McCrory/Ron Patton Mini Sprint (is it really called “blue eyes”?) which scuttled round at a great rate of knots. Patton was quickest on the first run, but his partner took over for the second winning the class in 2-21.2 seconds.
George Windrum took his Imp round quite rapidly to make third place with 2–24.6, nearly a full second behind Patton. Harold Hagen is surely worthy of mention in this class for his spectacular handling of the little white Mini 1000, which earned him fourth overall in the class, while Jim Cathcart and Charlie Irwin were also well worth watching.
Mervyn Johnston was the hero of the 1300cc saloon class, and was fastest on all three runs. Rob Pollock however wasn’t far behind driving Ronnie McCartney’s Cooper S very well, there being only 0.4 of a second in it. Harry Cathcart drove well for third place ahead of a whole mob of quick Coopers, which included Ken Irwin, Trevor Noble and Jeff Symes.
The big saloon class saw Donegal man Eamonn Harvey power has racing Anglia round a good two seconds quicker than second placed man B Taylor in an Escort. Andy Irwin went very rapidly in Parke’s Lumo Piranha Sprint to take third place ahead of Ronnie Johnston’s Cortina Lotus, Robert Ward’s Capri 2000, and Harry Frizell’s Escort TC, all of which were very close together.
Cahal Curley turned up to give the Capri 3000 its Irish competition debut, and was in among this lot on his first run, but he confused just about everybody by doing his second run with a passenger, navigator, or riding mechanic, and as a result his time did not count.
The class for MG Midgets was, naturally enough, an Archie Phillips benefit, and since his winning time was 14 seconds better than that of second man Eddie Scott (who was driving a roadgoing car), that issue was never in doubt. Eric Scott was third, less than a second behind his brother, and this kept the class alive.
McKibbens smart blue Lotus Elan took the honours in the large Sportscar class with a run in 2–20.6, just ahead of Mervyn Martin’s ex-Truesdale Turner, now resplendent in yellow, which managed 2–22.0. Archie Phillips drove his roadgoing MGC into third, some five seconds adrift, after throwing his screen washer bottle at your correspondent on the way round. John Dobbs could well have got into the first three with her MGB, but a spin on her first official run slowed her down somewhat.
The final car class, for racing cars and anything that wasn’t either a saloon or a sports car, saw Brian Kelly setting off like a bomb on his first run to record 2–10.4. Boyd was next to go, and did a 2-07.2, and on his second run tried even harder for 2-05.0 to set fastest time of the day. Kelly followed this up with 2–05.4 for second overall in the car section. John McGauran gave his latest creation, or rather McCartney-ish looking “bucket” device a good debut with 2-17.9 seconds.
The karts rounded proceedings off, and although there were several non-arrivals, Raymond Lyons was most definitely present, and his second run in 2–06.4 was third fastest overall. Second among the karts was R Walker with 2–12.9, while Alec Geddis suffered mechanical troubles on his second run, while trying to improve on his original 2–15.9.
In all, this was an enjoyable event with a very healthy looking entry list. It’s a pity though that there aren’t more single singers, for the sight of innumerable Minis, no matter how spectacularly they are driven, begins to pall after a while, and the “pukka” racers always seem to attract the public that little bit more.
The idea of having karts was a good one, and they certainly impressed the car fraternity with their speed round corners. Raymond Lyons didn’t appear to be lifting his foot anywhere, and his sideways progress was exciting to watch.
It’s possible that there will be another Rossahilly Sprint on July 18, if Enniskillen’s rallycross plans fall through, and if this happens, a few more single seaters, and karts, would be a welcome sight.
- Derek Boyd (1.6 Crosslé 16F), 2-05.0;
- B Kelly (1.6 Lotus 51), 2-05.4;
- Raymond Lyons (kart), 2.06.4;
- Archie Phillips (1.4 MG Midget), 2–07.5;
Class 1 (Saloons up to 850cc)
- Rob Pollock (0.9 BMC Mini), 2–26.6;
- Joe Thompson (0.9 BMC Mini), 2–27.8;
- Mervyn Johnston (0.9 BMC Mini), 2–33.0;
- J.Ferguson (0.9 BMC Mini), 2–37.3.
Class 2 (Saloons 851-1000cc)
- Michael McCrory (1.0 BMC Mini Sprint), 2–21.2;
- Ron Patton (1.0 BMC Mini Sprint), 2–23.7;
- George Windrum (0.9 Hillman Imp) 2–24.6;
- Harold Hagan (1000 BMC Mini), 2–25.0.
Class 3 (Saloons 1001-1300cc)
- Mervyn Johnston (1.3 BMC Cooper S), 2-16.4;
- Rob Pollock (1.3 BMC Cooper S) 2-16.8;
- Harry Cathcart (1.3 BMC Cooper S), 2-20.4;
- Ken Irwin (1.3 BMC Cooper S), 2–22.0.
Class 4 (Saloons Over 1300cc)
- Eamonn Harvey (1.7 Ford Anglia), 2-19.3;
- B Taylor (1.6 Ford Escort TC), 2-21.8;
- Andy Irwin (1.6 Escort Pirana), 2-23.9;
- Ronnie Johnston (1.6 Lotus Cortina) 2–24.0.
Class 5 (Sports Cars up to 1400cc)
- Archie Phillips (1.4 MG Midget), 2-07.5;
- Edward Scott (1.3 MG Midget), 2–21.6;
- Eric Scott (1.3 MG Midget), 2-22.1;
- D. McNeill (1.1 MG Midget), 2-28.4.
Class 6 (Sports Cars over 1400cc)
- R. McKibbin (1.6 Lotus Elan), 2-20.6;
- M. Martin (1.5 Turner), 2-22.9;
- Archie Phillips (3.0 MGC), 2-27.6;
- Edward Scott (1.8 MGB), 2-30.3.
Class 7 (Racing cars and specials)
- Derek Boyd (1.6 Crosslé 16F) 2-05.0;
- Brian Kelly (1.6 Lotus 51), 2-05.4;
- John McGauran (1.3 Mini Special), 2-17.8;
- P.J. Wilhaire (1.3 Firecrest), 2-20.0.
Class 8 (Karts)
- Raymond Lyons, 2-06.4;
- R. Walker, 2-12.9;
- A. Geddis, 2-15.9;
- W. Cosgrove, 2-30.2.
Handicap Winners: Bob McCutcheon, Harold Hagan, Ken Irwin, Eamonn Harvey, Edward Scott, Derek Boyd.
Ladies Award: Miss Joan Dobbs.
Best Fermanagh Driver: Mervyn Johnston.
Ben Hodgins Award: John McGauran.