1969 Scallon Cup Rally

Photo: Esler Crawford
Last season's rally champion Cahal Curley chalked up another victory when the rally season opened last Saturday with the Omagh Motor Club's Scallon Cup Rally.

Article scanned from Motorweek September 20th 1969.  Photos and report by Esler Crawford.  OCR and Image scanning/clean-up by Derek Smyth.


When Omagh Motor Club was advised that it might not be a good idea to run an all-night rally at the present troubled time, the organisers of the Scallon Cup Rally decided to make the best of a bad job and, at very short notice, turned this third qualifying round of the Ulster Rally Championship into a daylight forest special stage only affair.  To the writer, who was able at very short notice to leave home to cover the event at 9 a.m. after a good night’s sleep, this seemed an eminently civilized way to run a rally, and so apparently did 73 competitors who turned up for the 11 a.m. start at Mountjoy near Omagh.

The ill-fated Cooper S of Robin Lyons gets airborne on Bessy Bell

Ahead of them lay 13 stages totaling 35 miles plus 85 miles of simple navigation.  Leading the field was reigning Ulster Rally Champion, Cahal Curley, with Austin Frazer as usual in the hot seat of his Escort Twin Cam. Seeded number two was Ronnie McCartney with none other than Robb Pollock navigating his ex-works Cooper S, LRX 830E.  Ronnie’s current programme of driving tests, autocross and rallying seems a fairly hefty one for a man who said he was retiring last February!  Third in the order were Ronnie White and Harold Hagan in their old 8100 IB Cooper S.

There was drama right at the start when McCartney’s cylinder head gasket blew and by the time this was replaced he was leaving with the very late numbers and faced the prospect of considerable baulking on the stages.

Newcomer W. R. Fisher (Bertie) stirs up the rocks on Lough Bradan

The first stage was the infamous Bessy Bell which is one of the roughest stages in the country.  Here, the organizers surprised those people who thought they knew all about this forest by managing to extract 41/2 miles from a section which has never yielded more than about 3 miles in the past.  How this was achieved had better remain a mystery!

As expected the stage took its toll.  Brian Wilson broke a drag arm on his Cooper but was able to continue eventually.  Not so lucky were Brian Boyd and Trevor Noble whose Coopers succumbed to broken gearboxes.  Dennis McKeag broke the steering rack of his Twin Cam and Aubrey O’Hara and Fred Bell simply put their respective Cooper S and Triumph GT6 off.  Curley started off in champion style and set the fastest time in 8 mins 6 secs but Will Farren was going well and was only four seconds slower in his Cooper S. Fastest times were as follows:

SS1 – Bessy Bell (4.5 miles)

C.B. Curley (Escort TC) 8:06

W. Farren (Cooper S) 8:10

R. Eyre-Maunsell (Imp) 8:15

R. Lyons (Cooper S) 8:18

R. White (Cooper S) 8:22

J.S. McClean (Cooper S) 8:24

David Penpraze trying hard on Lough Bradan

The second stage, Leglands, was only a few yards away and was two miles in length.  At first, Curley was credited with the fastest time on this stage but it was Cahal himself who volunteered information that he had stopped to replace a coil lead on this stage, and for this he was eventually awarded a time of 5:13, as compared with Ronnie White’s 3:25, so the champion had quite a hard day’s work ahead of him.  Ronnie McCartney was beginning to get past some of the slower cars and appeared on the leaderboard but poor Will Farren ruined himself by going off and losing a vast amount of time.

SS2 – Leglands (2 miles)

R. White 3:25
H. Cathcart (Cooper S) 3:34
R.J. McCartney (Cooper S) 3:34
A. Irwin (Cooper) 3:38 (Novice)
G. Baird (Imp) 3:42
T. A. Harryman (NSU 1200TT) 3:43

J. W. Minnis gets assistance to shove his Cooper out of a ditch on the Lough Bradan stage.

Andrew Irwin’s good time on the above stage will be noted, and for someone who entered in the Novice’s Class, he went very rapidly all day.  Sawmills was another two-miler in the Baronscourt group of forests and this saw the demise of Robin Eyre-Maunsell’s ex- works Imp (the car prepared for Colin Malkin to use in the 1969 Scottish rally before Rootes withdrew from competition) with a broken gearbox, and Robin Lyons modified his Cooper severely against a tree.

This stage was very fast and a large proportion of the field had no trouble in cleaning. However, for interest’s sake the fastest times were as follows:

SS3 – Sawmills (2 miles)
C. Curley 2:05
R White 2:06
J McClean 2:15
H Cathcart 2:18
R. McCartney 2:20
T. Harryman 2:24

The slippery Mullaghcroy was a different kettle of fish and no-one got anywhere near the bogey time of 2
mins. It was the turn of Ronnie White to set the pace here while Curley was having a bit of trouble with clutch and suspension.

SS4 – Mullaghcroy (1.5 miles)
R. White 3:33.
C. Curley 3:44.
H. Cathcart 3:45.
J. McClean 3:52.
W. Farren 4:04.
T. Harryman 4:10.

Harry Cathcart drove a steady and sensible rally to take a good second place in his Cooper S

There was now a longish drive Westwards to near Kesh to tackle the Lough Bradan stage — a very fast and beautifully smooth stage.  It was unfortunate that the set bogey time here was nowhere near fast enough and again this stage was cleaned by many people. In addition, there was also something obviously wrong with the timing with Novices setting most of the fastest times and these are hardly worth recording.  However, it would seem as if Curley was fastest from White but with both losing no marks this did not help the former’s position very much.


White was now in a bit of trouble with a broken brake pipe and had to resort to closing it off to retain braking on at least three wheels.  Killeter was the last stage before lunch W a fast and smooth 4.5 miles to be done in 5:30.  Curley’s car was now back to comparative full health and he was only 7 seconds outside the bogey with Ronnie McCartney having his best run so far to ‘be second fastest while White was obviously slowed by his braking troubles.

SS6 – Killeter (4.5 miles)

Curley 5:37.
McCartney 5:59.
McClean 6:04.
Cathcart 6:06.
Farren 6:07.
O. Hadden (Cortina GT) 6:08.

David Agnew slides his BMW 2002 past the stricken Cooper of Trevor Noble on Bessy Bell

The only time control of the day was at the Killeter lunch halt where several people were penalized for being late including Ronnie McCartney.  Most of these people confidently expected this control to be ignored in the results but the organizers stuck to their guns and as a result, there were a few disgruntled rallyists at the end of the event.


The afternoon programme was a repeat of the first six stages but run in the reverse direction—with the exception of Ktlleter which was run the same way both times — and the addition of Gortin Glen at the end.  Going into Killeter for the second time there was a hold~up of over an hour’s duration as W. Gregg’s Cortina was removed from a position where it effectively blocked the track. Then the boys got at it again and running in his proper position at the head of the field, McCartney celebrated by sharing fastest time with Curley.

SS7 – Killeter 2 (4.5 miles)

Curley and McCartney 4:47.
White 4:59.

McClean 5:04.

Farren 5:12.
Hadden 5:17.
J. Bovill (Escort TC) 5:17 (Novice).

The second run through Lough Bradan was notable for the fact that most people were about a minute slower despite the stage being exactly the same as before.  However, this did result in everyone losing marks!  Fastest time was credited to Tom Lawther with White and Curley still at it hammer and tongs while novice J Connell was credited with the same time as this pair.   J. W. Minnis distinguished himself by going off twice within 400 yards, the second time beyond redemption.

SS8 – Lough Bradan 2

T. Lawther (Cooper S) 4:10.
White and Curley 4:15.
Cathcart 4:17.
J. Connell 4:15 (Novice).
McCartney and Hadden 4:20.

The next three stages were relatively uneventful except that Curley was fastest in them all with White and McCartney always second or third.

SS9 – Mullaghcory 2

Curley 2:24. _
White 2:23.
Irwin 2:30.
McCartney and J. Connell 2:34.
Cathcart 2:35.
McClean 2:40.

S.S.l0 – Sawmills 2

Curley 3:20.
McCartney 3:22.
White 3:24.
Farren 3:28.

Harryman 3:29.
Irwin 3:30.
Again it was noticeable that times on this stage suddenly jumped by a minute on the second run so that no-one cleaned it!

SS11 – Leglands 2

Curley 3:44.
White 3:50.
McCartney 3:53.
Cathcart 4:00.
McClean 4:05.
Irwin 4:07.

Would this Cooper be testing a demon exhaust modification for BLMC in preparation for the forthcoming World Cup Rally?

The penultimate stage which was the second run over Bessy Bell saw a dramatic change in fortunes.  Ronnie White had another brake pipe let go – this time at a more inopportune spot and found himself about I00 yards off among the trees.  Recovery from here took a long time and gone were Ronnie’s chances of beating Curley after trying so hard all day.  It also looked as if John McClean’s usual ill-luck had struck again when his subframe broke on the stage but he managed to get it welded in Newtownstewart and was able to complete the event. On this run, the stage was shortened to something a bit more like its usual length and consequently, times were much faster on the second run.

SS12 – Bessy Bell 2

Curley 5:10.
McCartney 5:17.
Cathcart 5:42.
McClean 5:52.
Farren 5:54.’
Irwin 5:57.
The final two-mile stage at Gortin Glen was cleaned by Curley, McCartney and the two-wheel braking White, and competitors then adjourned to the Royal Arms Hotel in Omagh to await the results.

SS13 – Gortin Glen (2 miles)

Curley, McCartney and White, all clean.
McClean 3:01.

Cathcart 3:04.

Harryman 3:04.

W. R. Fisher 3:08 (Novice).

Oliver Hadden and Dave Elliot have exchanged their Escort TC for a Lotus Cortina and is seen going well on Bessy Bell

The results confirmed Curley as the expected winner but the consistent and neat Harry Cathcart was surprisingly close, due of course, to Curley’s stage two trouble.  John McClean was third and his luck seems to be changing for the good at last while Terry Harryman displays continually increasing skill as a driver and pedaled the screaming little NSU home to fourth place.  Ronnie McCartney suffered badly from his road penalties and could only finish in fifth place, just ahead of the equally unlucky Ronnie White.

A feature of the event was the large number of new names to the rally scene and although most people know of Andy Irwin from his driving test exploits, his win in the novice’s section was his first big rally success.  In second place was Jim Bovill who drove his Escort Twin Cam very neatly in only his second rally.  W. R. (Bertie) Fisher, who took his Cooper to third in the Novices class, was a complete new-comer, while Malcolm Pedlow shows increasing ability in a career which only started last March.

The much modified Scallon Cup was a worthy Ulster Rally Championship qualifier despite the absence of serious navigation.  Cahal Curley demonstrated once again his good form of the past season and was a worthy winner while Harry Cathcart showed the value of steady and unspectacular driving.  It is just a pity that one or two timing lapses occurred – surely it is not beyond the bounds of ordinary intelligence for anyone to read a watch correctly?


1st, C. B. Curley (Escort Twin Cam) 48.4.
2nd H. Cathcart (BMC Cooper S) 52.2.
3rd J. S. McClean (BMC Cooper S) 55.4.
4th T. A. Harryman (NSU 1200TT) 62.5.
5th G. Baird (Imp) 63:03.
6th R. J. McCartney (BMC Cooper S) 71.3


1st A. Irwin (BMC Cooper) 75.5.
2nd J. Bovill (Escort Twin Cam) 76.9.
3rd W. R. Fisher (BMC Cooper S) 88.6.
4th M. Pedlow (BMC Cooper S) 91.2.
5th J. Connell (Cortina GT) 92.1.
6th P. Clarke (Cortina GT) 92.6.

TAILPIECE — Fred Bell and Ken Graham, whose Triumph GT6 went off on the first stage, would like to say a sincere “thank you” to all those people who assisted them in recovering the car.