Northern Ireland wins again!
This report appeared in Autosport Magazine 18 October 1973.
For the fifth year in succession, and the 12th time in the 17 years the event has been held, those irrepressible men from Northern Ireland walked off with the Ken Wharton Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of last Saturday’s annual “affair” at Pedmore House Hotel, Stourbridge, organised by Hagley & District Light Car Club.
Their three-man team of Harold Hagen (Midget), John Lyons (Clubman GT) and Ken Shields (VW) totalled 1277.2 seconds for the nine tests to win by 87 seconds from the Eire team with England third. Once again the event became a no-contest as early on as the second test, by which the Ulstermen had already established an 11 second lead and thereafter Eire and England fought hard for the runner-up spot with the other Irish getting the verdict by a comfortable 34 s margin at the close. The other three teams finished in the order of Scotland, Wales and Guernsey.
Individually, Messrs Lyons and Shields won their classes with Trevor Smith, the home BT&RDA Champion, taking the sports car class. It was perhaps fortuitous that Eire reserve Alan Murray dropped penalties on the last two tests, otherwise he would have beaten both Lyons and Dermot Carnegie for overall lowest total.
Led by the intrepid Harold Hagan, making his eighth trip to the event, the Northern Ireland team again demonstrated not only the highest degrees of skill in handling their cars but complete calm throughout the cold day and while the battle behind them swayed one way and then the other determined by the penalties dropped, the Ulstermen swept majestically to another triumph.
Even if neither of the following two teams had dropped penalties they would still have won by more than a minute which is a colossal lead in any school of autotesting. Of their two class winners, Ken Shields had the biggest margin for he beat Larry Mooney of the Eire team by 18 seconds, while Lyons had a battle royal with Dermot Carnegie before taking the class honours by two and a half secs.
The sheer brilliance of Trevor Smith was the main factor in keeping the England hopes alive for so long and he beat Hagan by three and a half seconds to take the sports car class.
Initially England held second place by 22 s which was then slowly whittled away but they were still 15 s to go as they went into what turned out to be a disastrous test 6. Here Peter Noad put up a double black in his VW and they ended the test 12 s down. They fought back extremely well on the next test to edge back into second by a whisker but it all blew up in their faces when Noad had an incorrect on the last.
Eire also had one man troubles – Douglas Richardson incurring two penalties, which at one stage looked critical, but turned out well in the end.
1973 Ken Wharton Memorial Trophy and Pedmore House Trophy:
- N. Ireland: Harold Hagen (Midget), John Lyons (Clubman GT), Ken Shields (VW), 1277.2;
- Eire: D. Richardson (Midget), D. Carnegie (Cooper S), L. Mooney (VW), 1364.9;
- England: T. Smith (Sprite), P. Darbyshire (Clubman GT), P. Noad (VW), 1398.0;
Class winners: T. Smith 423.3s; J. Lyons 403.3s; K. Shields 446.9s.
Fastest reserve: A. Murray (Cooper S), 421.8 s.