1970 Newry Spelga Hillclimb

David Gray's noisy Honda S800 tackles the first hairpin.

Boyd Takes Spelga

This uncredited report first appeared in Motorweek 21st May 1970

Newry and District Motor Club’s annual Spelga hill climb, which took place last Saturday, had all the ingredients of a first rate drama. However, for a change, the excitement was provided by something other than cars, and the main talking points of the day were the unexploded bomb languishing somewhere near the start line, and the bush fire, apparently started by some spectators, who were feeling the cold, which kept the fire brigade busy for a time, as well as shrouding commentator Brian Thomas in smoke!

There was also quite a bit of chat about a fellow by the name of Derek Boyd, who drove his Crossle up the hill as though he was on a special stage, to record a blistering 55.87 secs, only some 2.5 secs slower than Tommy Reid’s hill record, set with the FVA powered Brabham. In fact, Derek’s climb would have been good enough to earn him a new record, if only he’d done it two years ago! As it was, however, it was a fine effort, and certainly shows the potential of formula Fords in hill climbing.

Archie Phillips won the Large Sports Car Class – of course.

Following traditional Spelga practice, there was a practice session on the Friday night before the event, and, although there weren’t too many of the considerable entry present, the motoring was fast and furious. Needless to say, Derek Boyd was fastest, and, since he had the only really competitive car present, this wasn’t surprising, but it boded well for the Saturday when his times came down to within spitting distance of the record.

Unfortunately, Tommy Reid wasn’t organised following his return from Japan, and this meant that the Irish Racing Cars Brabham BT30 was a non-starter. Some compensation, however, arrived in the shape of Alec Poole’s Complan Mini, a carbon copy of the car which was burnt out last September, which Alec had entered at the last minute due to the cancellation of the MGCC Calary event which was to have taken place on the same day.

Victor Truesdale takes the ill-fated sprite to the top of the hill during practice.

Also Mini-mounted was Jim McClements, with his quick Riley Elf, while, of course Archie Phillips had his MG Midget. Brian Edgar’s FF Crossle failed to appear, but Jim Graham made up for this by bringing along Harry Acheson’s similar car.

Practice on the Saturday was rather late in starting, due to the non-appearance of the Fire Brigade until well after lunch, and then Alec Poole, looking surprisingly fit after the rigours of South America (and the outward journey we’re told!) managed to drop an enormous quantity of oil on the
second hairpin when a pipe burst.

After that, things went pretty smoothly, although both Victor Truesdale (Sprite) and Patrick John Wilhaire (Firecrest) went hors de Combat with suspected valve-piston problems. In the classes, things proved quite interesting. Classes One and Two were amalgamated due to a lack of entries, and here Tony Forsyth had little trouble taking his 1000cc Mini to a win ahead of H. Smith in a similar, but rather more standard car.

Understeering Escort courtesy of Ken Atkinson.

The up to 1300cc men were led by Alec Poole, the Complan Mini getting to the top in 60.34 secs, to be fastest saloon overall into the bargain. Second, some six seconds in arrears was Tom Lawther’s Rally Cooper, while third was Andy Kane (we thought he’d retired!) driving the latest Downton road going bomb to emanate from Kane’s Comber workshops, a Mini GT.

Among the over 1300 men, Jim McClements’ Riley Elf was quickest, with a climb in 60.45 secs, while Donegal man Robert Ward brought his roaring Fordie to the top less than a second slower. Third man was Bill Taylor, with his rapid 1600cc Escort GT.

There weren’t too many small sports cars about, and with the demise of the Truesdale machine, this class went to J. McNeill, whose well driven Midget featured strongly in this class in many events last year. David Gray made a lot of noise with his Honda S800, but due to the lack of entries, was unable to get any awards.

It almost goes without saying that Archie Phillips won the over 1300cc Sports Car class with his MG Midget, and his run, which also got him second FTD was accomplished in 59.31 secs. Second a long way behind was one R. Young in a Lotus Seven, while Mervyn McKinney took third place in his hairily driven Capri 3000GT.

They weren’t joking! It gets quite steep in places!

Despite the attraction of cash prizes from BP in the “Formula Libre” class, not too many people bothered entering for it, probably thinking that this was strictly a single seater domain. As it turned out, while Boyd did win, Graham’s Crossle wasn’t entered, so behind Phillips came Poole, McClements, and Young.

Generally speaking, there was plenty going on, and one of the best sights of the entire meeting for us, was that of a harassed policeman trying to explain to a coach-load of 50 elderly ladies that they couldn’t go up and see the dam that afternoon!


General Classification:

  1. D. Boyd (1.6 Crossle 16F) 55.87 secs.
  2. A. Phillips (1.4 MG Midget) 59.31 secs.
  3. J. Graham (1.6 Crossle 16F) 59.98 secs.
  4. A. Poole (1.3 BMC Cooper S) 60.34 secs.
  5. J. McClements (1.4 Riley Elf) 60.45 secs.
  6. R. Ward (1.8 Ford Escort TC) 61.09.secs.
  7. B. Taylor (1.6 .Ford Escort GT) 64.11 secs.
  8. R Young (1.5 Lotus 7) 65.20 secs.
  9. T. Forsythe (1.0 BMC Cooper S) 65..88 secs.
  10. M. McKinney (3.0 Ford Capri GT) 66.44 secs.

Classes 1 & 2. Saloons up to 1000cc. 1st, T. Forsyth (1.0 BMC Cooper S) 65.88 secs. 2nd, H. Smith (1.0 BMC Cooper) 72.00 secs.

Class 3. Saloons 1001-1300cc. 1st, A. Poole (1.3 BMC Cooper S) 60.34 secs. 2nd, T. Lawther (1.3 BMC Cooper S) 66.94 secs. 3rd, A. Kane (1.3 BMC Mini GT) 67.08 secs.

Class 4. Saloons over 1300cc. 1st, J. McClements (1.4 Riley Elf) 60.45 secs. 2nd, R. Ward (1.8 Ford Escort TC) 61.09 secs, 3rd, B. Taylor (1.6 Ford Escort GT) 64.11 secs.

Class 5. Sports Cars under 1300cc. 1st, J. McNeill (1.1 MG Midget) 71.33 secs.

Class 6. Sports Cars over 1300cc. 1st, A. Phillips (1.4 MG Midget) 59.31 secs. 2nd, R. Young (1.5 Lotus 7) 65.20 secs. 3rd, M. McKinney (3.0 Ford Capri GT) 66.44 secs.

Class 7. Formula Ford. 1st, D. Boyd (1.6 Crossle 16F) 55.87 secs.

Class 9. Formule Libre. 1st, D. Boyd, 55.87 secs. 2nd, A. Phillips 59.31 secs. 3rd, A. Poole, 60.34 secs. 4th, J. McClements, 60.45 secs. 5th, R. Young, 65.20 secs.

Class 8. Handicap. 1st, B. Taylor (1.6 .Escort GT) 47.11 nett. 2nd, M. McKinney (3.0 Capri GT) 48.44 secs nett. 3rd, A. Kane (1.3 Mini GT) 50.08 secs nett.