1972 Texaco Rally

Cahal Curley and Austin Frazer stretch the legs 0f the lightweight BMW on the Glendun Stage to consolidate their lead.


This report appeared in Motoring News. Words by Peter Scott. There were no photographs with the original report so photos from other events and sources have been used to illustrate the account of the event.

Cahal Curley took his BMW 2002 Ti to his fourth successive win on July 1, 1972 when, with Austin Frazer, he won the Larne Motor Club’s RAC Championship Texaco Rally by nearly two minutes from the RS1600 of Sean Campbell and Brendan McConville.  With this result, and his third overall in the Donegal International Rally, Campbell must now be considered as Ireland’s most promising driver.  Third place also went to a young crew, David Agnew and Robert Harkness in another lightweight BMW.

There was a disappointing entry of only 83 cars, of which 10 non-started, and 49 reached the finish.  The 250-mile route was mainly in County Antrim and had 100 miles of special stages divided equally between tarmac and forest.  Of the seventeen stages six were tarmac, nine were forest, and the remainder a combination of both.

Last year’s winner, Adrian Boyd, was seeded at No1 partnered as usual by Beatty Crawford in the Hamilton/Bowmaker RS1600.  The Donald McEnaney-built lightweight BMW of Curley/Frazer was next.  They were hoping that the forest-handling of the car had now been sorted out after a test session on loose during the week before.  The Mini of Mervyn Johnston and Paul Phelan was at three ahead of the Agnew/Harkness BMW.  Dessie McCartney and Terry Harryman were at five and were originally entered in an Escort RS1600, but there were insurmountable problems with the engine build and in the end they appeared in Harryman’s NSU TTS.  Robin Eyre-Maunsell, with Norman Henderson, made a rare home appearance in the Imp at six.

Adrian Boyd’s Escort would hold an early lead until gearbox trouble intervened. Photo ECP.

Number seven was due to be Pat McCourt/Peter Scott in a new lightweight Escort Twin-Cam 1650, but the oil pressure failed on the afternoon of the rally and they wouldn’t reach the start.  Next on the line then were Ronnie McCartney and Norman Smith in the Ex-Robert McBurney BMW 2002Ti.  The top ten was completed by the David Lindsay-prepared Escort of Campbell/McConville and the Cooper S of Ronnie White and Harold Hagan.

Interesting Southern entries were the Group One BMW 2002 tii of Eamon Cotter at eleven, and late entries Billy Coleman/Kenny Johnston (Escort TC) at 45, and Maurice Forde/Donal McSorley at 83.  The club had made some big blunders in the seeding, some examples being that the current first and third drivers in the Ulster Rally Championship, Trevor Fleming and Leslie White, were down at 40 and 38 respectively.

Texaco regular, Ronnie Nesbitt, would be out again in his fast Cooper S, seen here on the 1971 event.

Scrutiny was at a lay-by near Carrickfergus from 18:30 on the Friday night, and the first car left the start in the Town Centre two hours later to go to the first stage just one mile away.  This was the Knockagh stage, a four-mile tarred run, and Boyd made a lightening start on this.

  1. Boyd/Crawford 5m 13s;
  2. Agnew/Harkness 5m 38s;
  3. Curley/Frazer 5m 39s;
  4. Campbell/McConville 5m 41.

The second stage was a five-minuter at Kilcross and again Boyd was well ahead of Curley who was making his customary slow start.  Next up were Ronnie McCartney and Billy Coleman.  By now Boyd was leading Curley by 30 seconds and Coleman was a further 15 seconds adrift.

Five forests were next on the menu so there was a service point to change tyres.  The R.E. Hamilton crew had the tyre change competed and put the car into reverse to move out, but the gearbox refused to come out of reverse and it took the mechanics near half an hour to free it.  Boyd had to miss two stages and incurred a large road penalty, but he continued as he said he would soon be getting out of practice.

David Agnew and Robert Harkness brought the second lightweight BMW into the top three with third place.

It was at this service point that the Motoring News correspondent for the event, Peter Scott, was knocked down by a non-competing car and spent the rest of the event in the hospital.

The next stage was Carnearney Forest, and without Boyd, the BMWs of Curley and McCartney topped the times on this slippery two-miler, with Campbell next up.  The very short one-minuter at Tardree saw Curley and Campbell tie on 1m 05s, with Ronnie White and Billy Coleman on 1m 07s.  By this time the Trevor Fleming/Brian Dorman Cooper S had retired with no oil pressure, and after the next forest, Ballyboley, on which many crews beat the bogey, Leslie Arthur took his Imp home with a blown head gasket.

Adrian Boyd and Beatty Crawford were back in the fray for the short Capnagh Forest stage:

  1. =Boyd/Crawford 2m 29s;
  2. =Curley/Frazer 2m 29s;
  3. Campbell/McConville 2m 34s;
  4. R.McCartney/Smith 2m 37s.

Another rather short special stage was Parkmore, for which a one minute bogey time was set, and here a Mini was quickest in the hands of Ronnie Wilson.

  1. Ronnie Wilson/Dave Duffin, 1m 46s;
  2. Boyd/Crawford, 1m 51s;
  3. Curley/Frazer, 1m 53s;
  4. Campbell/McConville, 1m 54s.

The ten miles of Orra Lodge was “cleaned” by many of the top crews, but Billy Coleman departed into the scenery and could not get back out.  Scottish driver A. Mongel, on his first visit to Ireland, with local navigator Stuart Carphin managed to  write off his Escort on this one.

Top Mini would be Mervyn Johnston and Paul Phelan with an impressive fourth place overall. Photo ECP.

Only one stage (Ballycastle Forest) remained before the supper halt at the Brown Trout Inn at Achadowey, and late-entry Maurice Forde, running last car on the road, did well to match the bogey here.  Ronnie White, who had been going well up until now, was in trouble here with a driveshaft pulling out.

  1. Maurice Forde/Donal McSorley, 7m 38s;
  2. Leslie White/Drew Todd, 7m 44s;
  3. Boyd/Crawford, 7m 49s;
  4. Campbell/McConville, 7m 53s.

At Aghadowey Curley was only leading Campbell by 20 seconds, with McCartney and Agnew fighting it out for third place. 

Campbell closed the gap on Cam Forest with a time of 12m 24s compared with Curley and Boyd who were both on 12m 35s, but Curley came back on Springwell with a time of 7m 57s to Boyd’s 8m 05s and Campbell’s 8m 13s.  

Slievenorra forest was next, being 40% tar and the rest gravel and forest.  Nobody got neat Boyd’s time of 9m 48s, but Ronnie Wilson put in a great time with 10m 00s, ahead of Curley on 10m 03s.

Another Texaco regular was Norman Thompson with Eddie Magee co-driving, and always exciting to watch in the forests, and would finish in ninth place overall.

The nine-mile tarred road at Glendun followed and on this high-speed run, Boyd and Curley were out on their own with 9m 27s and 9m 28s respectively.  Agnew was next up on 9m 51s.  Dessie McCartney out Terry Harryman’s NSU off the road and Tom Lawther had to retire his Cooper S with a blown head gasket.

The service crews had to work again before the next stage which was eleven miles of forest track in Ballypatrick Forest.  Campbell set another good time with 12m 44s, just ahead of Boyd and Curley.

Ronnie McCartney’s excellent run was spoiled when the battery to starter solenoid with came off and he dropped from third place to eleventh.  Ronnie White eventually gave up when the driveshaft was more often out than in.

The top four on each of the remaining three stages were Boyd, Curley, Campbell and Agnew, with Leslie White in close attendance.  Leslie had been setting good times all night but had lost a lot of road time with oil pump problems.

Top Ulster driver Leslie White, with regular navigator Drew Todd, struggled with a poor seeding, but set some fast times during the event in his Escort TC.

The results were announced in the King’s Arms Hotel at Larne around 6pm, and they showed that the McEnaney-built BMWs had done well again with Curley and Agnew in first and third places overall.  But the real star of the show was Sean Campbell who had pushed Curley all the way, and was less than two minutes behind at the end.  Mervyn Johnston was seldom in the top times on the stages but was always “there or there-abouts” and was top Mini.  Eamon Cotter took his standard BMW 2002 Tii to a very good fifth place overall.


  1. C.Curley/A.Frazer (BMW 2002), 119m 41s;
  2. S.Campbell/B.McConville (RS1600), 121m 34s;
  3. D.Agnew/R.Harkness (BMW 2002), 123m 54s;
  4. M.Johnston/P.Phelan (Cooper S), 125m 35s;
  5. E.Cotter/Unknown (BMW 2002tii), 128m 07s;
  6. H.Cathcart/G.Morrison (Cooper S), 129m 00s;
  7. R.Wilson/D.Duffin (Cooper S), 129m 27s;
  8. D.Lindsay/D.Cunningham (RS1600), 130m 10s; 
  9. N.Thompson/E.Magee (Hillman Imp), 131m 01s;
  10. G.Campbell/J.Palmer (Cooper S), 131m 09s.