1970 Mid-Antrim Driving Test

Right hand down for Harold Hagan.

Southern Driver wins Mid-Antrim

This report is reproduced from Motorweek, 7 March 1970.  Report and pictures by Esler Crawford.

Last Saturday saw the 1970 Ulster Driving Test Championship get underway with Mid-Antrim Motor Club running the first round at Toome Airfield. Of the original 40 entries quite a number, including part of a strong Eire contingent, did not turn up, and quite a few others, on seeing the tests, decided not to compete and eventually there were 27 runners.

Brian Rowan (left) and Harry Cook seem to have nothing to do and all day to do it.

It is sad to relate that those who decided not to complete had good reason for their decisions as the six tests, carried out twice, were terribly tight and lacking in imagination with the circling of pylons the only manoeuvre the organisers had apparently even heard of and, as the results show, it was a day for Minis.  Nevertheless, after recent internal upheavals in the club, the Mid-Antrim boys seem to be in an efficient frame of mind and the test marshals look very smart in Northern Dairies white coats, while Noel Mercer had rally-bedecked the very substantial pylons with Castrol decals.

Charles Crawford looks worried about this Castrol lubricated pylon.

As well as the fact that this was the first round in the 1970 championship series, the Southern entry created considerable added interest. Of the original entries it was a bit disappointing that Conor Linehan and Des Cullen did not turn up. Nevertheless, 1969 Hewison Champion Dermott Carnegie was there, together with Larry Mooney, Clive and Ronnie Peterson, Frank Lenehan, Ray Murphy and Alan Murray.  Most of the top “home” drivers were also present, except for Robert Woodside and Ronnie McCartney.

Ken Irwin working hard in the last test.

As the drivers began to inspect test one it became obvious that the organisers had not read the NIACC rules on driving tests which stipulate “front wheels only” add all lines, whereas we had  “stop astride”.  However, this did not put anybody off too much and Ian Woodside got off to a fine start with 20.2 in his Midget with Carnegie (1000 Mini) and Ron Mullen (Beach Buggy) on 22.0.  Incidentally a great number of Southern drivers now favour the 1000 Mini instead of the Cooper S which is much more expensive and not much faster if Carnegie’s times are anything to go by.

Roy McClean and Larry Mooney (left) interviewing Ron Mullen.

Roger Cree was comparatively slow in his new yellow Sprite and it looked as though his handbrake was not functioning too well. There was a rather peculiar incident involving David Grant. Halfway through the test the clutch pedal of his Cooper S stuck down on the driveless car had to be pushed off the test, thereby incurring a fail. However he was permitted a re-run – which was a somewhat unprecedented move.

Charlie Irwin and Ted Hobson look very worried about something.

Test two was something of a Dunlop special with 360° turns around four pylons causing about 10,000 miles of rubber to be scrubbed off in about 23 seconds, which was the time taken by Carnegie and Charles Crawford (MG Midget) for this manoeuvre. Derek Boyd’s limited slip differential equipped VW got run nicely in 23.6 but it was apparent that Charlie Irwin’s handbrake was also in bad form and his times were to be slowish all day. Ian Woodside spoiled his good start by clouting a pylon.

Ken Shields about to reverse into his own dust cloud.

Before test three Roger Cree dismantled his rear brakes and found oil on the shoes – this explaining his poor handbrake. A rapid cleaning session paid dividends and he proceeded to set the fastest time on the test with 26.8, while Harold Hagan (MG Midget) was just a fifth of a second slower.  Test four was a rather controversial affair. Firstly, it had an against-the-rule-book flying finish and then, when several drivers lost their points on a long reverse on a very loose surface, and had to take first gear to sort the matter out, they were given a fail. However in the end common sense prevailed and these seals were scrubbed. This test went to Cree with Ron Peterson (998 Mini) in second place.

Clerk of the Course Roy McClean has a word with Clive and Ronnie Peterson.

Test five was an extremely tight wiggle-woggle were even the shortest cars had sometimes to take a cut, and Ken Shields hit a pylon in his smoky VW 1500. Fastest time went to Carnegie with 19.4 seconds with Cree and Albert Lucas (Mini) sharing 20.0 seconds.  The last test of the first lap saw Woodside in front with 24.8 to the 25.0 of Derek Boyd, while Cree dealt his hopes a blow by having a line fault.

At this point Carnegie was brilliantly leading the field with 158.8 with Hagen just behind on 159.4, while “pylon clouters” Woodside and Cree were paying their penalty with 161.4 and 163.8 respectively.

John Lyons burns has way round a pylon.

Cree pulled back a bit by winning test seven with 20.2 with Hagan a second slower. In test 8 Cree and Charlie Crawford shared the honours with their limited slip diff’s crunching in the most disastrous-sounding fashion as they circled the pylons. In test nine it was the turn of Carnegie to uphold his position by winning the test from Hagan by 0.2 seconds, but in fact Hagen had taken the lead at this stage. This was short lived however and with 36.82 to Hagan’s 38.2 in test 10, Carnegie was back in the lead.

Dermott Carnegie getting all the flu from Paul Phelan.

Carnegie had a brilliant run and test 11 where he scuttled through the pylons in 18.8 seconds with John Lyons (Hornet) being next best on 20.6. The two East Antrim men, Ian Woodside and Charlie Crawford, finished the day with a flourish by sharing the last test in 25.2 but this did not affect the position of Dermot Carnegie who had a very fine win by a margin of over three seconds. Second was Harold Hagan and third Roger Cree, who had the best second lap score.

Roger Cree cleans up his rear brake linings.

This ended the interesting if not outstanding first Hopkirk Trophy round. It is to be hoped that the Southern boys will come up for the other rounds, for they certainly added a bit of atmosphere to the occasion – not to mention driving talent! Certainly in this class of entry the competition is red hot as can be judged from the fact that Ken Irwin, such a convincing winner at Maghaberry a couple of weeks previously, could only finish 11th.


  1. Dermot Carnegie (Mini 1000) 313.2;
  2. Harold Hagan (MG Midget) 316.4;
  3. Roger Cree (AH Sprite) 318.8;
  4. David Grant (Cooper S) 322.2;
  5. Ian Woodside (MG Midget) 323.8;
  6. Clive Peterson (Mini 1000) 325.0;
  7. Ronnie Peterson (Mini 1000) 328.8;
  8. Charles Crawford (MG Midget) 329.8;
  9. Charlie Irwin (998 Cooper) 332.0;
  10. Frank Lenahan (998 Cooper) 337.6