1973 Coleraine Snowplough

Photo: Unknown
Gerry Campbell and Derek Smyth were leading the event until a relatively minor off damaged the steering and they were out.

Report reproduced from WHEELS Magazine, report by Peter Scott.


For the first time, in 1973, Coleraine and District MC’s “Snowplough” rally was an N.I. Rally Championship round and deserving winners were local crew Irvine Tannahill and Victor Armstrong, who had a quick and steady run in their Cooper S. Second, four minutes behind the leaders, were top seeds Leslie White and Drew Todd in their Escort TC. Mid-Antrim MC crew Sammy Kyle/Tommy Speers had their best result to date, taking third overall in their Cooper S but the most talked-about performance was that of David Agnew and Robert Harkness who took their standard VW 1302S into fourth overall, taking the lead in the newly-started Group One Championship.

At the start, White/Todd led away followed by Trevor Fleming/Brian Dorman (Cooper S) and Sean Campbell/Peter Scott in the Lindsay Cars Escort RS1700. Gerry Campbell/Derek Smyth were at four in the Laing Cooper S, while Terry Harryman and Paul Phelan completed the top five in the former’s NSU TTS.

The Brook Garage in Coleraine was the start venue and many crews – especially the novices – were not happy with the one hour”s plotting time (a new RAC ruling). A short run-out led to the first tight section on the fast roads of sheet one. Poor Terry Harryman had only covered a mile before the electrics on the NSU packed up making Paul Phelan’s journey from Dublin seem rather pointless.

Campbell/Scott immediately piled on the pressure, passing the Fleming/Dorman Cooper just before the first time control. The Newry driver also took the fastest time on the fast, loose and bumpy first selective in 1m. 35s., followed by Hugh O’Brien/Pat McCullough on 1m. 43s. and the Russell brothers on 1m. 50s. The last-named stopped soon afterwards with a holed radiator, while Fleming and Dorman retired on the selective with a broken gearbox.

On the way to Torr Head Campbell/Scott had severe navigational problems (he means he got lost Ed.) losing nine minutes and missing a route check, thus putting them out of the running. On Torr, the first two cars to arrive, White/Todd and Campbell/Smyth, were given an unlikely clean run while Tannahill/Armstrong dropped 1m. 59s. and Campbell/Scott 2m. 20s. As if to emphasise this, the two unpenalised crews both dropped a minute at the next control though the rest of the field had five minutes in hand.

The first petrol halt followed, and positions at that stage were: Campbell/Smyth 4m. 54s.; White/Todd 6m. 55s.; Tannahill/Armstrong 7m. 01s.; Kyle/Speers 8m. 37s.; and Nutt/White (Cooper S) 10m. 11s.

Paul Martin/Mickey Thompson dropped a lot of time on Torr with a loss of oil from their very quick new 1800 cc engine. The next selective was at Managher outside Kilrea and Gerry Campbell was in front here losing one minute, with Tannahill next in line. Sean Campbell finished the section with a broken crankshaft and naturally retired.

Three more selectives followed on the run through North Derry after the selective on Slieve Gallion where Jimmy Ogg‘s Cooper was fastest. Nutt/White were fastest on the first of these, Kyle/Speers on the second, and Nutt again on the third. Campbell/Smyth dropped out of contention here when they went off the road and damaged the steering.

In spite of this, however, the eventual winners (Tannahill/Armstrong) extended their lead on the road sections in between the selectives and when the results were announced at the Brown Trout, Aghadowey, the semi-expert crew were declared winners, much to their surprise. In all an interesting and generally well-organised event.


  1. I. Tannahill/V. Armstrong (Cooper S) 41m. 35s.;
  2. L. White/D. Todd (Escort TC) 45m. 36s.;
  3. S. Kyle/T. Speers (Cooper S) 49m. 24s.:
  4. D. Agnew/R. Harkness (VW) 52m. 47s.;
  5. J. Adams/R. Sloan (Escort) 53m. 49s.16.;
  6. D. Nutt/J. White (Cooper S) 64m. 16s.