1970 Ulster Merchant Finance Rally

This report is reproduced from Motorweek dated 9th July 1970.

Barry wins UMFSSE

The Ulster Merchant Finance Special Stage Event has been and gone, last Saturday week to be precise (27 June 1970), but in the absence of any clear cut results, we held the report until this issue. The winner was Mickie Barry, who lost only twenty points on the eight stages covered, setting fastest time on five of them.

The Motor Enthusiasts Club, who ran the event last year (and on previous occasions it was known as the “Tostal”) had amassed an entry of 73, several of which came from North of the Border, and, with five very good stages, some in forests, and some on public roads, all to be attempted twice, things looked set for a good afternoon’s rallying.

Then the weather did its bit. From lunchtime onwards (the first car started at 2 pm) it was rain, rain and more rain, and as if this wasn’t enough, problems were encountered on the very first stage, Glanmore Castle, where a local resident decided to throw a spanner in the works by blocking the stage after the first dozen or so cars had gone through. This caused much confusion, as the stage was only a matter of minutes from the start of the rally, and in no time, a traffic jam was forming, tempers were getting frayed, and even the local policeman, himself a rallying enthusiast with an Escort GT tucked away in the garage at home, was unable to make the lady see reason.

Eventually, the stage was scrubbed, and the field proceeded to Laragh North, SS2, where an all tarmac 3.2-miler was awaiting their attention. Here, David Agnew got everybody going by setting the fastest time in the BMW from Mick Barry (Escort TC), Noel Smith (Hornet), Gerry Macnamara (Escort) and Mick Dolan (Escort). In trouble here was Conor Lineham’s Amoco Mini, which developed fuel pump problems, and took an eternity to complete the stage. SS3, Laragh South was another all tarmac affair, and_ here Barry showed his form for the first time, taking the honours from Smith, Macnamara, Dolan and Charlie Gunn (Escort).

Croneyburn Forest, the only real woodland stage so far with the cancellation of SS1, saw quite a bit of excitement, with Noel Smith having fuel pump troubles and taking a long time for the stage, while Mick Dolan took the fastest time, from Barry, MacNamara and John Bridges (Cooper). Glenealy, the next stage on the list, however, saw Dolan out of the action in the biggest possible way following a mighty roll, which did little for the appearance of the Escort.

After a stop for petrol, if anybody wanted it, it was back into Laragh North, and here Charlie Gunn did the winning, beating Barry, MacNamara and Smith, while David Agnew dropped from contention after losing a lot of time. Laragh South saw Barry in front, and Croneyburn the second time round provided all the action.

Ernest Campbell was the first to go with a mighty roll, and Ray Murphy (Mini) wasn’t long in following his example. Gerry Forde (Escort) was also involved in shuntings on this one, as were many other people in various ways.

From here on it was Barry all the way, and at Glenealy, the final stage, he did it again, while John Bridges and Robert Maharry retired their Minis with various problems.

All in all, a good day’s sport, spoiled perhaps by the weather, and also by the stage-blocking act put on early in the day, Ulster Merchant Finance Sponsorship certainly helped to put a bit of “needle” into proceedings, and we look forward to next year’s event.


Premier award, Mick Barry/Kenny Johnston (Escort TC) 20 marks.

  • Class 1, Saloons up to 900 cc, R. Neely (Mini) 515 marks.
  • Class 2, Saloons 901-1200 cc, C. Peterson (Mini 1000) 39marks.
  • Class 3, Saloons 1201-1400 cc, D. Cullen (Cooper S) 173 marks.
  • Class 4, Saloons over 1400 cc, G. MacNamara (Escort TC) 87 marks.
  • Class 5, Open Cars, C. Evans (MG Midget) 559 marks.

Ladies Award, Miss S. Sinclair (Cooper) 559 marks.