ADRAIN BOYD: FOLK HERO
This interview by Ian Sadler (IS) is reproduced from Autosport Magazine November 29, 1973.
IS: First off, what will be your programme for next year now that you have a second car with the ex-Roger Clark Escort LVX 9421 ?
AB: We will be using LVX for forest events, nationals and internationals. There may also be a possibility of tackling some continental events. The Sherry and TAP have been discussed but we are not really definite on anything yet. The old car will be kept for tarmac rallies.
IS: What is your driving preference – loose or surfaced events ?
AB: I much prefer tarmac but it is a bit difficult in that the speeds are so high. I don’t personally find it difficult but it can frighten people off. If you have an accident it’s usually a big one, as I found out on the Manx last year. Beatty always found it difficult to get used to the extra speed of tarmac when we did the Texaco after the Scottish Rally. It always took him a few stages to settle down to the extra speed the car was going at. I think I like tarmac best because I’ve been brought up with it and consequently I am used to it. I am beginning to like loose surface stages now though I didn’t like them in the beginning because they were very hard on the car. I could do a Circuit of Ireland and unless I hit something I knew that the car wasn’t going to be damaged. It wasn’t going to suffer with suspension and so on, and you could do a complete Circuit and still have a good car at the end. With the Scottish Rally it would be different. Whenever I was owning the car and paying my own way, I would pick the tarmac events as it was cheaper for me. Now it is all paid for, and I am beginning to like forest events equally to tarmac.
IS: The Escort is the most popular and successful rally car, do you see anything to challenge it ?
AB: There was a time when I thought the two-door Viva would have had a go if Vauxhall had been keen enough. I think it is a car that could have beaten the Escort if it bad received the proper development for rallying. As for the ‘Porsches here, we have terrible trouble with the Carreras but this is because of our tarmac events. With BMWs too we have three makes which figure strongly whereas in the rest of Britain there is only the Escort. The tarmac events are much closer to racing. It’s half-way between racing and rallying. The BMWs used last year were lightweight cars, very much cut away; they did take forests though they hopped about all over the place but suited tarmac very
IS: Have you ever wished to drive any other make of car?
AB: I started with Fords and other cars and on the Circuit in 1967, ’68 and ’69 I drove an ex-works ‘Mini Cooper “S” though not on a lot else. Then I drove an Escort and from 70 onwards that’s all I’ve driven. There are many times I’d have liked to drive something else, especially a good Porsche, I don’t really know why.
IS : If you had a totally free choice next year what would you like to have a go with ?
AB: If I had a free choice I’d like to try the GT70 – it hasn’t really proved itself up until now but it should be a good car – I always like a challenge; everyone is driving Porsches now so I’d like to have a go with something a bit different for tarmac events. With my commitments it has to be a Ford as we know it and it really can’t be anything else.
IS: If you had the past five years again, would you have, with hindsight, wished to have entered any different events; and to what extent do your business commitments dictate the rallying you do ?
AB: Business-wise it’s not bad because it is a family concern and I have brothers and so on who can do my job whenever I’m not here. Looking back, I’ve been rallying for 15 years and knowing what I know now, I would have had a go to try to get to the top more quickly. With me it has been, until the last couple of years, a question of finance and a case of doing what has appeared to be most sensible. I have been depending on a certain amount of prize money to keep me going so I have been choosing evens carefully – the ones best suited financially. Obviously I should have been doing a lot more events but it just wasn’t on before.
IS: Which driver do rate most and for what events ?
AB: Since the Porsche Carrera came about on a tarmac event the man that I really fear is Cahal Curley. Every time we have been out this year, it has always been a real battle. I’ve been lucky to finish all events. Cahal’s car was new at the beginning of the year and is completely reliable the whole year through, whereas my car was giving trouble on and off, but we really did have three or four good battles this year where we both finished first and second.
IS: Are tarmac stages tougher on transmissions than forests ?
AB: It depends on the way you drive the car. Obviously you are getting a lot more grip on tarmac. A lot of drivers don’t lift off whenever they go over jumps and they are landing with full power on. With tyres gripping so well these days, something is bound to give on tarmac. ‘I always try to lift off when the car takes off, and land on a trailing throttle. A tarmac event is bound to be harder on transmission, though if you treat it carefully it will be much more reliable.
IS: So really it’s not obviously harder on the car so long as you drive for the situation, but is there a special skill to tarmac driving? Many forest-only drivers are never really conﬁdent, or quick, on tarmac.
AB: I think all this depends on the way you have progressed through motor sport. The big thing over here is auto tests and most of those are tarmac. When I started in 1960 the Circuit of Ireland was half autotests and half navigation. I think the autotests teach you great car control. You get to know just how the car brakes on tar – how to throw the car — how it slides and all at low speeds which is reasonably safe. It teaches you great judgment. I went on from that and at the same time, in fact with the same car, a Sprite, I entered the odd hillclimb and race, and that of course was all tarmac as well. So when I started to rally, really all the events I entered were on tar so I grew up to know and like it. It’s only recently, within the past couple of years, that I have had a real go at the forests. Many other drivers have gone about it the other way, and have the majority of their experience on loose surfaces.
IS: Quite a few good road drivers don’t seem to like driving in forests – at least they seem to steer clear of stage events. You don’t seem to have had any doubts. The Scottish last year I thought was a good example when you had a hum-ding battle right through with Andrew Cowan.
AB: Yes, the Scottish was the first time that I completely adapted to forests. I think this development, as far as my driving is concerned, was held back for a year or so because the previous year I had a left hand drive Escort and everyone told me that Roger could drive left hand drives. It’s a problem — all these top drivers can adapt so easily — I think Ford told me that. I tried for a year to learn to drive left hand drives – and I was never happy with it. It just never clicked properly. I think that if I had had that year in a right hand drive car I would be further on as far as forest driving is concerned. I changed over during the winter – we converted the car to right hand drive and immediately that happened I felt completely with-it again, and I think the Scottish Rally
result came out of that.
IS : What is your favourite rally ?
AB: It must be the Circuit of Ireland. It’s my home event and I think that it’s always a lot easier to do your own event. The people watching are behind you, especially if there are a lot of foreigners, or English people over, you get a great help. I think that is why the Northern Ireland autotest team do so well – everyone is watching how they are doing and is keen to see them winning. They have this extra responsibility; if they go back and have not won, everyone knows about it. I think that is why I like the Circuit, and its tarmac too, which I like the best.
IS: What about the last Manx? You were ahead of Clark when he retired.
AB: I should have enjoyed that event very much but I didn‘t, not while it was happening. It was very very hard work. As soon as sponsorship comes along you are responsible to a lot of people who you didn’t have to think about before. They are putting money in because first of all the sponsor is looking for publicity value and to get that publicity you have to have the odd win, and without wins you are not news any more. It does put a big strain on me having this extra responsibility. It was certainly a lot easier whenever I was competing on my own because if it didn’t all happen right, I just went home and that was it. Now there are various people looking for results, they don’t say as much, in fact the team I’m with, Lombard and Ulster, are quite decent about it. They say they’re not expecting me to win, just to try my best. They really like me to finish so the car is seen throughout the rally. That is why the Manx was a bit of a strain. First of all we did have a real go. I had great help from John Davenport, his experience was marvellous and it meant a lot to our doing well. We put a lot of work in before the rally, a lot of practising, and it all came together very well which surprised me because I’ve only had two co-drivers since I started rallying, Morris Johnstone first of all and then Beatty Crawford. It was quite a strain for me to have someone else sitting with me – even worse when it is someone with the reputation John has, having sat with so many drivers. I had to forget it was John sitting there and just drive as I would normally because if I had been thinking it was John, I would probably have put it off on the first bend just by trying too hard. I enjoyed the Manx afterwards – it’s always nice to win.
IS: So you find you are getting more keyed-up now when you know that you have to fulfil a purpose – is your rallying still as enjoyable?
AB: It’s not quite so enjoyable. I now race for enjoyment with a group one Capri. The rally car is so specialised now it is a worry to drive. You get to the start of a stage and you worry about it going off a plug, you worry about it overheating if it sits too long and half of the time my car does not start on the starter for some reason – which has never really been cured. With the group one Capri you jump into lit, let it tick over on the grid and then you drive it without any worry – just good fun, which is why I race. The rallying is now quite serious.
IS: Talking of group one, what are your views on group one rallying ?
AB: Rallying is popular now, especially in Ireland, and I think if this is to continue then the expense will have to be lowered quite considerably because it has gone a bit mad. I think it is possibly better for spectators now because of these very fast rally cars. Rallying now, it is almost the golden age of rallying, but the expense puts it out of reach for many people. I think we will probably have to keep these quick cars although I’m not too sure about that. They are certainly good to watch.