1985 Ireland’s Ken Wharton

Frank Lenehan was a key member of the winning Eire team in his MG Metro.


This first report appeared in the Belfast Telegraph after the 1985 Ken Wharton Trophy weekend.

THE Republic of Ireland won the Ken Wharton Trophy for the second time in the International Autotest Meeting at Kidderminster – but they needed more than a little help from Northern Ireland.

In the end the Republic had a 43 second advantage over Northern Ireland in second place but that was after the Ulster drivers had conceded some 70 points in line and pylon penalties against the 10 seconds dropped by the Irish team.

More than that, there was an Ulsterman in the Republic’s squad – Ron Mullen – a Northern Ireland reserve being called in to fill the large saloon spot in his Ford Escort. The winning Eire team was Frank Lenehan, Ron Mullen, Peter Lynch, and Dermot Carnegie.

A Golden Oldies team which included two Ulster drivers, Ken Irwin and Ken Shields, took third place ahead of England with Wales in fifth place. However, it was an Englishman, David Haigh, who set the fastest individual time of the day, beating the Republic’s Dermot Carnegie by less than four seconds. And that was after Carnegie had committed the error which cost the Irish team its 10-second penalty.

The 1985 Ken Wharton Memorial winning team: (left to right) Frank Lenehan, Ron Mullen, Dermot Carnegie and Peter Lynch.

Haigh, of course, won the sports car class with Carnegie winning in the specials class ahead of new Northern Ireland champion Sam Bowden. And England’s Arthur Robinson won the large saloons in his Escort with Northern Ireland’s Lee Lucas second in an Astra. The only Northern Ireland class winner was Colin Earney who took his Metro to first place among the medium saloons.

IRELAND ON TOP (Motoring News – 23 October 1985)

THE 29th running of Ken Wharton Memorial Autotests on October 12 — organised as ever by Hagley & DLCC was blessed with a day of glorious weather for its first visit to the Worcester Road Island site in Kidderminster. This year it was the turn of the Irish Republic to take the spoils of victory, therefore preventing England (winners in 1983 and ’84) from completing what would have been their first hat-trick of victories.

The Irish team comprising Peter Lynch (VW Beach Buggy), Dermot Carnegie (Mini Special), Frank Lenehan (MG Metro) and Ron Mullen (Escort XR3i) took the lead after test two, a lead they were never to lose and actually increased to a winning margin of 43s.

The major battle of the day was between the teams of Northern Ireland and England along with a “new” team known as the “Golden Oldies”. With 1985 being the 50th anniversary of the organising club, a team of golden oldies had been assembled to commemorate the last 25 years and do battle against the present day competitors. Competing under the “Golden Oldies” banner were Dick Squire (AH Sprite), Ken Irwin (Mini Special), Ken Shields (Metro 1300) and Trevor Smith (Rover 216 Vitesse).

Northern Ireland took second place after test four with England third followed by the Golden Oldies and Wales. Only a run by Ken Irwin which incurred a maximum, gave England space to breathe. On test six John Larkin (England) collected a fail when the throttle cable broke on his Mini Cooper, this then leaving the places as Northern Ireland second from England and the Golden Oldies, all covered by only three seconds.

The “Golden Oldie” team included Ken Shields in his Metro. The team of veteran autotesters surprised many by taking third place in the team competition.

With England collecting a couple of penalties on the penultimate test, the positions were reversed, the Golden Oldies moving up to third place by 12 seconds, a placing they were to hold to the end.

In the classes David Haigh (England) took his Haigh Special to FTD and Class A honours from the AH Sprite of Dick Squire. Class B was won by the Mini Special of Dermot Carnegie (Ireland) from the similar car of Sam Bowden (Northern Ireland), while Class C went to Colin Earney (Metro) also from Northern Ireland from the MG version of Frank Lenehan (Ireland). Arthur Robinson took his Escort to a convincing victory in Class D from the XR3i of Ron Mullen (Ireland).

In the reserve teams, Northern Ireland’s Stephen Reaney was very impressive taking FTD and first in Class B in his Mini Special from England’s John Underwood. Other class victories went to England’s Malcolm Livingston (Lotus 7) in Class A, Northern Ireland’s Harold Hassard (Hassard Metro 1275) in Class C, and England’s Mike Jordan (Escort) in Class D.

Team scores:

Republic of Ireland (Lynch, Carnegie, Lenehan, Mullen) 2289.3;
Northern Ireland (Ewing, Bowden, Earney, Lucas) 2332.2;
Golden Oldies (Squire. Irwin, Shields, Smith) 2352.7;
England (Haigh, Larkin, North, Robinson) 23674;
Wales (Powell, Evans, Connor, Thirlwall) 2458.5.

Individual scores:

Class A: 1. Haigh (Haigh Special) 519.7; 2. Squire (AH Sprite) 553.3;
Class B: 1. Carnegie (Mini Special) 523.42; 2. Bowden (Mini Special) 539.2;
Class C: 1. Earney (Metro) 569.2; 2. Lenehan (MG Metro) 577.1;
Class D: 1. Robinson (Escort) 607.8; 2. Mullen (Escort XR3i) 633.6.

Post script from the Belfast Telegraph:

Both Northern Ireland and the Republic teams took part in the Geoff Betts memorial autotest at Telford the day after the Wharton, and while Carnegie won in his Mini Special, Ulster drivers – Bowden, Irwin, William Rutherford and Harold Hassard — filled the next four places.

In the 500 Club’s round of the Northern Ireland sprint championship at Kirkistown, reigning champion Robert McGimpsey set fastest time of the day in his Crossle Turbo. Second place went to Joe Greenan in a Reynard with Richard Young’s IRM Crossle third ahead of the Delta of Alan Maybin.