1984 Navigation Championship.

The Award Winners for the 1984 N.I. Navigation Rally Championship. From Left: Derek Ervine, Derek Smyth, Elkin Robinson (Winning Driver), Chris Belton presenting the awards, Drew Todd (Winning Navigator).

This report is reproduced from Carsport Magazine.
Author and photographer are unknown.


Drew Todd is the 1984 Navigation Rally Champion, having established himself as the navigator to beat on the regularity events now making up the championship series. The shift in emphasis from speed to navigation was highlighted by the fact that the driver’s champion, Elkin Robinson, used exclusively diesel cars throughout the year, and was in fact the only driver to win more than one event in the championship series.

Each of the events had a different character and this made the championship an interesting and demanding series of events. Over thirty crews earned championship points in the course of the year, and although the numbers of entries ranged from only fourteen to twenty-two, the intensity of the competition more than compensated for the low numbers.

The series got underway in February by the Cookstown Motor Club. Snow in January had caused this event’s postponement until just a week before the second round, but the easy-on-cars nature of the events means that events on consecutive weekends is no real problem. Ian Gibony had laid on a fairly straight-forward route, not wishing to make it too difficult for those trying this for the first time.

Elkin Robinson, from Donemana Co. Tyrone, won in Cookstown and went on to be the 1984 Navigation Rally Champion Driver.

The entry list boasted the almost legendary crew of Mervyn Johnston and Austin (Arne) Frazer in a Mini Metro, and also saw the return of past two-times champion navigator Derek Smyth, now back home after several years in America. Despite the apparent ease of the event, and despite the event having to be cut short with two sections to go, the results still managed a spread of penalties. Only the overall winner’s spot presented the organisers with any kind of a dilemma.

Two crews had zero penalties. Top seeds, Derek Ervine and Drew Todd, found themselves tied with relative newcomer Elkin Robinson, navigated by Derek Smyth. The resolution of the tie was to be by cubic capacity, and Elkin had to empty the glove Compartment of his VW Golf to find the owner’s manual and find out the capacity of the Diesel engine! With so much attention focussed on the Diesel, poor Derek Ervine inadvertently overstated the capacity of his Frat Strada, and in doing so handed the overall award to Elkin.

Only six marks covered the top seven Crews, and it looked like being an interesting, competitive year as teams headed for Londonderry the following weekend.

Derek Ervine was forced to miss the second round, and it was Robinson and Smyth who headed the field away on what was to be a much tougher event than Cookstown. A well-planned mixture of references, tulip. and straight-line, coupled with a variety of average speeds, taxed the navigators to the full and the hard work showed on their faces at the Glen House Hotel finish in Eglinton.

Belfast crew James Erwin and Isaac Busby overcame some early problems to beat all the locals on their home event, and brought their Alfasud home some two minutes ahead of Robinson and Smyth. Of the less experienced crews, Raymond Deazley and John McClay demonstrated their potential by taking top honours in the Non-Experts Class, and fifth place overall.

The spread of penalties was much greater on this event due to the increased difficulty for the navigators, but it was still a very acceptable balance for the majority of competitors. To his surprise, Elkin Robinson found himself still in the championship lead, admittedly by only one point, with James Erwin second. Nicky Moffitt, navigated by Seamus McCanny, was in third place and looking forward to the next round in Omagh.

The experienced Ian McFarland had adopted an uncomplicated format for his event, using only plot-as you—go map references, but with the usual Omagh tricky navigation. This sorted the visitors out from the locals pretty well, but Drew Todd did manage to take Derek Ervine into second place. Both Robinson/Smyth and Erwin/Busby fell foul of the navigation traps, while Nicky Moffitt and Seamus McCanny avoided any such problems to snatch the overall award.

Robert Johnston had coaxed Michael Hart out to navigate him in his Audi Quattro and was rewarded with a fine third place. Ken Graham and Godfrey Crawford were fourth and were the first of many crews with penalties in double figures.

For Nicky and Seamus, the win in Omagh let them move into the lead position in the championship, relegating Elkin Robinson to second by a point and James Erwin to third by a further three.

It must have been the wettest night of the year as crews reconvened at the Banbridge start of the Newry event. Derek Ervine and Drew Todd headed the list with Robert Johnston and Mike Hart taking the Quattro for another run in the number two spot. The weather, as well as the navigation, were to play an important part during the night.

Drew Todd was the man to beat all year during the 1984 Navigation Rally series.

After a section of plot as-you-go references, competitors encountered their first piece of ‘trace’ navigation for the year. This was to give a few of the crews some difficulty, but Ervine/Todd and Robinson/Smyth solved it easily and took a lead over the others. Some grid lines and spot heights, straight line and eventually clock-face took tired crews back to the Banbridge finish.

The weather had caused flooding in a number of places and one particularly deep example caused Ervine and Todd to drop a minute when they drowned out. The competitors weren’t the only ones to suffer as the Clerk of the Course spent a long time in this same flood watching the competitors go by. It was here that the diesel took advantage of its immunity to electrical problems and trundled to first place overall for the second time in the year. Behind them were Ervine and Todd, followed by Erwin’Busby and Moffitt/McCanny, interestingly enough the same order as in Cookstown. Raymond Deazley and Jim McCay took fifth overall and first in the non-experts, just ahead of Keith Adams and Bill Livingstone.

With four events gone, and into the summer break, Elkin Robinson and Derek Smyth were back on top with points scored on all events, and their total now two clear of Nicky Moffitt and Seamus McCanny. In third were James Erwin and Isaac Busby but all eyes were on the Ervine/Todd combination whose three scores were all second places; enough to leave them in fourth place. There was little doubt that they were going to be a major threat by the end
of the season!

The long Summer break seemed to cause some loss of interest, or perhaps it caught some competitors on a bad weekend, but the entry list was missing the name Moffitt, and although it did have Erwin and Busby, they were unable to make it on the night.

It was apparent very early in the event that this wasn’t going to be an easy one. The very first section caught several rusty navigators who all made errors on the straight-line section. It was to be a particularly bad night all round for Elkin Robinson because not only did Derek Smyth fail to solve the trace, but the crew also didn’t realise they were to look for signs along the way with code letters on them!

It was to be a night of high penalties. with the winners on 345 and the last finisher with just under 1000! The now fashionable diesel engine had its best sweep of the results so far with Eric Patterson’s Peugeot van second, Tom McKinney’s Astra third and Elkin Robinson’s newly acquired 205 Diesel Peugeot in fourth place. In the first place, however, confirming the earlier predictions, were Derek Ervine and Drew Todd, and this moved them into second place in the championship behind the Donemana Diesel man. It now seemed inevitable that they would overhaul the series leaders before long.

North Armagh Orchard Rally 1984

Well earned Orchard victory for Ervine/Todd partnership.

This report is from Carsport earlier in 1984

Contenders for the Northern Ireland Rally Championship got a sudden awakening after the summer break, when the North Armagh Club held their round of the series, the Orchard Rally on the 7th September. According to championship regulars competing, the 75-mile route was the toughest they had encountered on this year’s championship to date. This was emphasised by the fact that all of the 13 starters encountered navigational difficulties.

The rally got underway from Robb’s filling station just outside Portadown towards Armagh with competitors heading west to Loughgall, then south to Richhill, and passing south of Markethill toward the finish which was about a mile from the start venue.

However, it was soon apparent that the navigational challenges were not going to be easy, with the majority of crews having to cut out part of the route to keep to their 30 m.p.h. average, such was the difficulty in solving some of the route instructions. Eight crews did make it back to the finish inside their maximum permitted time, even though they did not all cover the complete route.

After a meal in the Carngrove Hotel the results were posted. The all-navigator crew of Derek Ervine and Drew Todd upheld their No.1 seeding and took their Fiat Strada 130 TC to a well earned victory. The Dungannon pairing of Eric Patterson and Alistair Donaldson bravely conducted their Peugeot 305 diesel van through the narrow Co. Armagh lanes to finish runners up.

Next up, taking third overall, were Tom McKinney and Jackie Anderson in another diesel car, this time a Vauxhall Astra. The crew who had won the Shamrock Rally earlier in the year had returned another consistent performance to give them a few more points in the club championship.

Yet another diesel vehicle finished in fourth, this time a Peugeot 205 crewed by Elkin Robinson and Derek Smyth who now moves further up the Northern Ireland Championship tables. Alyn Spiers and Keith Cunningham took fifth with Class 2 winners Alwyn Geary and Colin Herron finishing sixth overall in their Fiat. The other Class 2 positions went to Lawson Wade and Samuel Matthewson who were second, and third place was taken by Edward Murphy and Samuel Jackson.

The night proved to educate quite a few people, even the organisers, who will, no doubt, make full use of their experience for the North Armagh Club’s final 1984 Club Championship navigation rally — the Drive Right – to be held in November.

7th September, 1984


  1. Derek Ervine/Drew Todd;
  2. Eric Patterson/Alistair Donaldson;
  3. Tom McKinney/Jackie Anderson;
  4. Elkin Robinson/Derek Smyth.

Class 1

  1. Ervine/Todd;
  2. Patterson/Donaldson;
  3. McKinney/Anderson.

Class 2

  1. Alwyn Geary/Colin Herron;
  2. Lawson Wade/Samuel Matthewson.

At Dungannon, the entry list was missing Derek Ervine’s name: business demanded him elsewhere. Drew Todd teamed up with Marshal Allen in his wife’s Maestro, and they followed Robinson and Smyth away on another tough night’s navigation. Dungannon regulars Trevor Haydock/Brian Rowan and Ken Colbert/Alistair Donaldson were having a go at this type of event for the first time this year and were to fare better than some of the more regular crews.

Derek Smyth, who was Elkin Robinson’s navigator on the 1984 series, shows how little basic equipment is needed for these type of events: a trip meter, map magnifier, and a watch.

The rally got underway with some out-of-order map references, but the real fun was to start with the next section which was a previously unseen version of clock-face. It became apparent as the night wore on that there were very few checks to ensure that the correct route was being followed, and those who took the time to solve the instructions generally did worse than those who just went from control to control. Robinson and Smyth seemed to suffer particularly badly, being one of the few to follow the exact route on most of the sections, but there were no checks to penalise those who didn’t.

Some minor errors in a couple of the sets of instructions made life even more interesting for navigators, especially for those who were determined to figure out the intended route. By the finish at The Inn on the Park, Ken Colbert had established a seven-minute lead over the Maestro pair Allen and Todd, while the Zwecker/Johnston combination took the non-experts award and sixth overall. Deazley and McCay were second in their class and eighth overall, but the most significant result of the night was Drew Todd’s as it gave him the lead In the navigator’s section of the championship.

As it happened, this would turn out to be the last round |n the 1984 series. Admittedly a shorter series than had been hoped for, but an excellent start to a new form of motorsport, at last truly within the reach of the average club member.

Final Championship Placings (Scores are Best 5 Results)


  1. E. Robinson 43
  2. D. Ervine 37
  3. N. Moffitt 32
  4. J. Erwin 29
  5. D. Wilson 18
  6. R. Deazley 15
  7. K. Adams 13
  8. R. Johnston 10
  9. K. Colbert 10
  10. E Patterson 9
  11. M. Allen 9

Other Points scorers were: T.McKinney, T.Haydock, 8; K.Graham. 7; M.Johnston, R.Drysdale, A.Spiers, I.Cuddy, 6; A.Geary, I.Zwecker, 5; K.Doherty, S.Gordon, L.Wade, A.Irwin, N.Dickson, 4; I.Browne, J.McMullan, E.Murphy, 3; I.Steele, A.Cathcart, B.O’Br1en, 2; M.McNamee, 1.


  1. D. Todd, 46
  2. D. Smyth, 43
  3. S. McCanny, 32
  4. I. Busby, 29
  5. A. Donaldson, 19
  6. J. Eagleson, 15
  7. J. McCay, 15
  8. B. Livingstone, 13
  9. G. Campbell, 10
  10. M. Hart, 10

Other Points scorers were: J.Anderson, B.Rowan. 8; G.Crawford, 7; A.Frazer, K.Cunningham, W.Cuddy, 6; C.Herron, H.Johnson, 5; G.O’Doherty, K.Nixon, S.Matthewson, A.Haydock, 4; I.Porter, T.Kyle, S.Jackson, 3; D.Kennedy, E.McCurdy, 2; R.Philpott, W.Blackledge, F.Weir, 1.