1973 CAM Rally

Ronnie McCartney and Peter Scott, seen here on the Circuit 74, drove this car to a fine win on the '73 CAM Rally.

1973 Omagh Cam Rally

McCartney and Scott “Career” to Cam Rally Victory.

In Omagh Motor Club’s Championship CAM Rally on Saturday 15th September (1973), Ronnie McCartney and Peter Scott took their Porsche Carrera to victory, over one minute ahead of 1973 Championship leaders, David Agnew and Robert Harkness in their BMW, and over four minutes ahead of the Escort TC of Leslie White and Drew Todd.  However, unluckiest men of the rally must have been Hugh O’Brien and Robin Lyons, who retired their ex-Safari Escort TC with clutch failure on the twelfth stage, when only 18 seconds behind the leaders.

By Omagh standards the entry was low, fifty less than the mammoth entry in the same event 1971.  As Harry Johnston and his wife were taking a well-earned holiday in the United States, Strabane school teacher P.J. Winters was in complete charge, and as Clerk of the Course, did a fine job.  The first car to follow him from the start control at Johnston King Motors was 1971 winner Hugh O’Brien with Robin Lyons as co-driver.

Number two was to have been the BMW of Cahal Curley and Austin Frazer, but the car was sold on the Thursday before the rally and so “CB” came as a spectator.  At number three came the  eventual winners, and at four were David Agnew and Robert Harkness, also in a BMW.  At number five was the potent 2.2 VW of Robert McBurney and Brian Rowan.  However their rally was to be short-lived as they stopped on the very first stage, and sixth was to have been Nicky Lindsay, but he had succumbed to the flu bug.

Patrick McCullagh and K. McCormick, slithering their way to third place in Class2 – Semi Experts.

A short run took cars to the first stage at Legends, and right away McCartney set the pace, being ten seconds clear of Agnew, with O’Brien one second slower.  Stage two was Bessy Bell, minus the infamous “top road”.  Here O’Brien and McCartney set identical times at 3m 12s with Agnew eight seconds adrift.  Even after the first couple of stages many crews were seen anxiously examining the remains of their sump guards!

At the Sawmills, Willie Elliot/Des McCartney retired their Escort TC while leading Class 3, and in fact were beating everybody in Class 2.  Elliot, a relative newcomer, is really quick on the loose, and a man to watch in the future.  Here too, Billy Ferguson retired the Group One Avenger, and Autotest expert, John Lyons, retired his Cooper S with a fractured fuel pipe.

After a double dose of Lough Braden, the cars headed to a private road stage at Mr Sam Robinson’s Deerpark, near Irvinestown.  Most competitors enjoyed this smooth, fast stage and O’Brien and Agnew were fastest at 2m 24s with McCartney one second behind.  It was here too that the gearbox of Paul Martin’s  Escort finally “gave up the ghost”.

After the Deerpark stage the cars headed for the lunch break where figures showed that McCartney had a twenty-four second lead over O’Brien after six stages, with Agnew four seconds further in arrears.

Top 10 Overall after 6 stages:

  1. R.McCartney/P.Scott 17.25;
  2. H.O’Brien/R.Lyons 17.49;
  3. D.Agnew/R.Harkness 17.53;
  4. L.White/D.Todd 19.00;
  5. T.Fleming/B.Dorman 19.08;
  6. K.O’Kane/P.McCullagh 19.09;
  7. P.Little/J.Beatty 19.18;
  8. J.Shields/J.Chambers 19.25
  9. G.Campbell/D.Smyth 19.43;
  10. S.Kyle/T.Speers 19.53

First stage after lunch was Glengowna, which had a reputation for being “a wee bit rough”.  It had been regraded, however, much to the relief of all, but on the fast downhill section, Irvine Tannahill and Fred Gallagher in the Safari Park Cooper S tore a wheel off and retired.

Irvine Tannahill and Fred Gallagher on safari in their Cooper S, but the day would not end well with a damaged suspension. Photo Esler Crawford.

The next stage was Gortin, which finished near the bottom of Harry’s famous hillclimb, but which had to be scrubbed due to a faulty watch – but not before O’Brien and McCartney had gone through the stage, only to be confronted by a tractor and trailer coming the other way.

Quite a long road section took competitors to a new forest in the Glenelly valley called Goles, which had a water splash and was extremely slippy, both uphill and down.  In fact, on one downhill section there were no less than ten cars “off” at one time.

On the short Glenedra stage opposite Banagher, Agnew was fastest with O’Brien four seconds slower, and McCartney thirteen.  It was here too that Sammy Kyle/Tommy Speers had an excursion, taking a maximum and thus ruining their chances of a very good result.  The eleventh stage was the twisty Moydamlaght where O’Brien and McCartney had a time of 7m 00s, with Agnew nine seconds slower.  At the start of the stage, O’Brien was having terrible trouble with the clutch and could only hope that it would hold out until the end.

Kevin O’Kane and Peter McCullagh were consistently in the top 5 on stages and finished fourth overall.

The week-old Group One Firenza of Brian McBride/Stuart Carphin was losing water fast, but the marshal at the time control was able to supply them with some, and they soldiered on.  Going well at this stage was the Cooper S of Jackie Shields/J. Chambers who were destined to finish first in Class 2 and fifth overall.

Moydamlaght Forest also saw the retirement of Dessie Nutt/John White with a broken tie-rod on their Cooper S.  Des Lavery/Peter Morrow went off as did Ron Patton /Denzel McKibben.  Cars then headed North to Glenshane Forest, and the luckless O’Brien was towed off the stage after his clutch packed up completely.  It was here that Leslie White had almost knocked the spectating C. B. Curley into the conifers when the tail end of his Escort gave one more twitch than Cahal had anticipated.

The penultimate stage was Davagh Forest, where McCartney was 43 seconds faster than Agnew, and the last one at Lough Fingrean (where the Club would like to thank Mr Mike Dobbs for the use of his road).  Somehow, after checking in at the end of this stage, Ronnie McCartney was able to get a second “fling” and had just parked up halfway through the stage (with his £7000 motor car well out of the way) just in time to see Ivan McClean roll his Imp.

Gerry Campbell and Derek Smyth had a steady trouble-free run to sixth place overall in the yellow Laing Cooper S. Photo Esler Crawford.

On the last couple of stages Joe Pat O’Kane and Tommy Tennant were having trouble with the Avenger and had maximum penalties on both.

It was an enjoyable event, and it is worthy of note that, even though ordinary pocket watches were being used to time almost all the stages, there was only one time query – and even that was questionable.  The Omagh Motor Club were assisted by Coleraine, Cookstown, Enniskillen and Mid-Antrim Motor Clubs, and financially assisted by sponsor Mr Colm Devlin in running this popular event.


  1. R. McCartney / P. Scott – 58.24
  2. D. Agnew / R. Harkness – 59.49
  3. L. White / D. Todd – 62.27
  4. K. O’Kane / P. McCullagh – 62.28
  5. J. Shields / J. Chambers – 63.08
  6. G. Campbell / D. Smyth – 65.09
  7. J.Logan/P.Ervine – 66.32
  8. S.Thornton/T.Kerr – 67.47
  9. P.Little/J.Beatty – 68.10
  10. R.Allingham/G.Morrison – 68.36


SS1 – Legends. 

  1. R.McCartney/P.Scott (Porsche) 3.18;
  2. D.Agnew/R.Harkness (BMW) 3.28;
  3. P.Martin/L.Reavy (Escort TC) 3.28;
  4. H.O’Brien/R.Lyons (Escort TC) 3.29;
  5. K.O’Kane/P.McCullagh (Escort TC) 3.32.

SS2 – Bessy Bell.

  1. =R.McCartney/P.Scott 3.12;
  2. =H.O’Brien/R.Lyons 3.12;
  3. D.Agnew/R.Harkness 3.20;  
  4. P.Martin/L.Reavy 3.23;
  5. =K.O’Kane/P.McCullagh 3.33;
  6. =T.Fleming/B.Dorman (Cooper S) 3.33.

SS3 – The Sawmills.

  1. R.McCartney/P.Scott 2.56;
  2. =H.O’Brien/R.Lyons 3.04;
  3. =D.Agnew/R.Harkness 3.04;
  4. P.Little/J.Beatty (Cooper S) 3.13;
  5. =L.White/D.Todd (Escort TC) 3.15;
  6. =T.Fleming/B.Dorman 3.15.

SS4 – Lough Bradan 1.

  1. =R.McCartney/P.Scott 2.29;
  2. =D.Agnew/R.Harkness 2.29;
  3. P.Martin/L.Reavy 2.30;
  4. H.O’Brien/R.Lyons 2.31;
  5. K.O’Kane/P.McCullagh 2.38.

SS5 – Lough Bradan 2.

  1. R.McCartney/P.Scott 3.05;
  2. D.Agnew/R.Harkness 3.08;
  3. H.O’Brien/R.Lyons 3.09;
  4. L.White/D.Todd 3.22;
  5. J.Shields/J.Chambers 3.23;
  6. T.Fleming/B.Dorman 3.24.

SS6 – Deerpark.

  1. =D.Agnew/R.Harkness 2.24;
  2. =H.O’Brien/R.Lyons 2.24;
  3. R.McCartney/P.Scott 2.25;
  4. R.Neely/L.Dickie (Cooper S) 2.30;
  5. L.White/D.Todd 2.31.

SS7 – Glengowna.

  1. D.Agnew/R.Harkness 4.22;
  2. R.McCartney/P.Scott  4.24;
  3. H.O’Brien/R.Lyons 4.27;
  4. L.White/D.Todd 4.35;
  5. K.O’Kane/P.McCullagh 4.35.

SS8 – Gortin Cancelled.

SS9 – Goles.

  1. =R.McCartney/P.Scott 4.33;
  2. =H.O’Brien/R.Lyons 4.33;
  3. D.Agnew/R.Harkness 4.38;
  4. R.Neely/L.Dickie 4.41;
  5. L.White/D.Todd 4.45.

SS10 – Glenedra.

  1. D.Agnew/R.Harkness 2.46;
  2. H.O’Brien/R.Lyons 2.50;
  3. K.O’Kane/P.McCullagh 2.52;
  4. R.McCartney/P.Scott 2.59;
  5. L.White/D.Todd 3.05.

SS11 – Moydamlaght.

  1. =R.McCartney/P.Scott 7.00;
  2. =H.O’Brien/R.Lyons 7.00;
  3. D.Agnew/R.Harkness 7.09;
  4. K.O’Kane/P.McCullagh 7.18;
  5. L.White/D.Todd 7.21.

SS12 – Glenshane.

  1. R.McCartney/P.Scott 5.19;
  2. D.Agnew/R.Harkness 5.30;
  3. K.O’Kane/P.McCullagh 5.35;
  4. L.White/D.Todd 5.46;
  5. R.Neely/L.Dickie 5.49.

SS13 – Davagh.

  1. R.McCartney/P.Scott 13.49;
  2. D.Agnew/R.Harkness 14.32;
  3. L.White/D.Todd 14.51;
  4. K.O’Kane/P.McCullagh 15.11;
  5. P.Little/J.Beatty 15.17.

SS14 – Lough Fingrean.

  1. R.McCartney/P.Scott 2.55;
  2. D.Agnew/R.Harkness 2.59;
  3. L.White/D.Todd 3.03;
  4. K.O’Kane/P.McCullagh 3.04;
  5. =G.Campbell/D.Smyth 3.05;
  6. =P.Little/J.Beatty 3.05.