1982 Ken Wharton

Lee Lucas kept everybody behind him in his class.

This report is reproduced from Carsport Dec92/Jan93.
Report by Derek Coates.

Derek Coates

Northern Ireland do it again!

Northern Ireland collected victory number 18 out of 25 in Britain’s top autotest competition held at Kidderminster on 16th October. The ‘A’ team of Robert Dickson (Mini-Special), Ken Shields (Metro) and Lee Lucas (Beach-Buggy) led throughout the day and ran out winners by almost 50 secs. Not only did they capture the main team award but they also won the three classes to totally dominate the event.

A last minute rule change which forced N.I. to change their Inter-Association winning team made them all the more determined to maintain the Northern Ireland winning tradition. The strongest opposition for many years came from the Eire ‘A’ team of Dermot Carnegie, Frank Lenehan and Douglas Richardson. The England ‘A’team was made up of Russ Swift (current RAC & BTRDA champion), Jonathan Livingston and ex-British champion Dick Squire. Of course the N.I. ‘B’ team of Norman Ferguson, Hill Scott and Ron Mullen were, on paper, as strong as the ‘A’ team, so along with the other teams from England, Eire and Wales (Scotland did not appear) a lively event was anticipated.

Northern Ireland Champion Robert Dickson did the business in his class.

Seven tests were the order of the day (three before lunch) set out in the car park of the superb Stone Manor Hotel. Unfortunately, the weather changed sharply overnight and at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning the bleary-eyed drivers were greeted by one of the wettest “Whartons” on record. But this did not appear to worry the N.I. ‘A’ team. They took to the conditions like ducks to water. By the end of the first test they had amassed an amazing lead of 10 secs. from Eire ‘A’ with England ‘A’ third.

This was the pattern for the rest of the morning with N.I. driving away from the opposition and Eire and England fighting it out for second. At the lunch break the score stood as follows:

  1. N.I. ‘A’ 471.7 secs.
  2. Eng. ‘A’ 494.0 secs.
  3. Eire ‘A’ 498.9 secs.

In the Reserve Category England’s Steve Stringer held a one-second advantage over Ulster’s Derek Coates.

After much consumption of hot soup, etc., it was back to the elements and a further four tests. Northern Ireland continued as they left off, gaining a further five seconds with Eire just holding off England. In the Classes the battle was more intense. Northern Ireland Champion, Robert Dickson, held a slender lead (0.5 secs.) over Eire’s Dermot Carnegie for class one.

Class two was being led by Ken Shields by 2.2 secs. from his countryman Ron Mullen. Lee Lucas was separated by only 0.2 secs. from England’s Dick Squire (Sprite) in Class three. And so it continued with N.I. extending their lead at every test, and it was plain to see that barring a disaster they were going to be the winners. Everyone else was playing for second place only.

When it came to the last test N.I. had such a commanding lead (over 40 secs.) they knew that they could even afford a ‘Maximum’ and still win. But the same could not be said about some of the Class leaders. Robert Dickson led class one by just 2.1 secs. from Eire’s Alan Murray, who had taken up the hunt after Dermot Carnegie collected a 10 sec. penalty on the previous test. Lee Lucas was still under pressure from Squire, but the gap was up to 2.5 secs.

Ken Shields – never had a line or pylon fault at the Ken Wharton!

While these drivers were on a tightrope, veteran Ken Shields in his Metro was showing his rivals the way to do it and had extended his lead to about 14 secs. Next up was N.I. B Team’s Ron Mullen with Eire’s Frank Lenehan (Datsun) and England’s Jonathan Livingston (Metro) tying for third, a further 7 secs. adrift. In fact it was learned at the post event activities that Ken has never had a ‘penalty’ recorded against him in all the many years competing at the event. A truly remarkable record!

At the finish, as expected, N.I. ‘A’ took the first place. England slotted into second place ahead of Eire, the Irish team being unfortunate in collecting a 20 sec. penalty in the penultimate test. N.I. ‘B’, who had been off form all day, was fourth. bThe three ‘A’ team drivers also won their respective classes. Derek Coates (in his borrowed Rentatruck Mini) won his class and was runner-up to Ex-British Champion Steve Stringer (Lotus 7) in the Reserve Category.

What a weekend! It made the return journey of 13 hours in gale force conditions worthwhile.



  1. N.I. ‘A’ Dickson, Shields, Lucas – 1213.4.
  2. England ‘A’ Swift, Livingston, Squire – 1260.7.
  3. Eire ‘A’ Carnegie, Lenehan, Richardson – 1276.9.
  4. N.I. ‘B’ Ferguson, Mullen, Scott – 1308.6.
  5. England ‘B’ Underwood, Larkin, Smith – 1312.4.
  6. Eire ‘B’ Murray, Power, Faulkner – 1340.7.
  7. Wales Herbert, Powell, Northall – 1467.1.

Class 1 Robert Dickson (Mini Special).
Class 2 Ken Shields (Metro).
Class 3 Lee Lucas (Beach-Buggy).

Best Reserve Steve Stringer (Lotus 7).