Article reproduced from Motorweek (Date unknown)
Cahal Curley – Very Near The Top
Last Saturday’s Scallon Cup win for Cahal Curley and Austin Frazer puts this popular pair in a firm lead in this year’s Ulster Rally Championship, while at the same time underlining the fact that Cahal must now be considered one of the best if not the best rally driver currently on the Irish scene.
In view of this and other successes this year, then, it is all the more remarkable when one considers that Cahal, who, incidentally was Ulster Rally Champion last year, has only three and a half years rally experience behind him, not a lot by any standards.
In fact, Cahal started rallying in 1965, when he entered the touring category of the Circuit of Ireland With a”Volkswagen 1500 not with any spectacular success, but plenty of enjoyment, which prompted him to try his hand again before long. To this end, a Cortina GT, the first of a long line of rallying Fords was purchased, and Cahal enjoyed a certain amount of success, navigated, first by his present co-driver Austin Frazer, and then, for a season, by none other than our own Esler Crawford.
By this time, though, he was on his umpteenth GT and had become one of the unluckiest men on the rallying scene, with eleven non-finishes out of thirteen starts, which must be some kind of a record!
In the period 1966/67, pressure of business brought about a period of enforced retirement and it wasn‘t until the start of last year that Cahal, again with Austin Frazer in the “hot seat” set about improving his finishing record, which he.did to such good effect that he and Austin won the Ulster Rally Championship.
At the end of last year, the Lotus Cortina that he used (661 YAL) was sold to Joe Pat O’Kane, and Cahal purchased in its stead the “homemade“ Escort Twin Cam which had been raced the previous year by David Lindsay. This was made into a very rapid rally car by Donald McEnaney, the man responsible for the preparation of all the Curley machinery, and made its debut on the Circuit of Ireland, finishing fifth and following this up with a win in the Texaco in May, and a second (to Marathon winner Colin Malkin) in the Manx Rally on the Isle of Man.
In addition this year, Cahal has been seen in several other speed events, notably the two sprints run by the Enniskillen Motor Club, in which he won his class on both occasions, and Syonfin Hill Climb, a “traditional“ Curley event where his very forceful opposite lock style of driving is always much appreciated by the crowds.
Since I966, Cahal has been running CB Motors in Spencer Road, Londonderry, and this business he describes as his “hobby” although he has been known to play a bit of golf from time to time. Rallying, however, remains the main passion in his life, racing (although he has tried in on occasions, doesn‘t have the same appeal, and Donald won‘t let him do Autocross as it‘s too hard on the car!
The possessor of a very keen sense of humour, Cahal has a large collection of amusing rally stories, the best of which we think, is the one concerning an event quite early on in the Curley career when “CB” and Austin took along a third party on a rally “just for the ride”, to give him an idea what it was all about.
All had gone fairly smoothly until they arrived at what was, on Austin’s map a crossroads, at which they were to go straight ahead. Instructions were given accordingly as they approached the junction at about 80 mph, but, on rounding a bend about 25 yards before the cross, “CB” discovered that it was, in fact, one of those rather nasty staggered affairs where you turn along the main road for a short distance.
Nobody was prepared for this, of course, and, since they were going much too quickly to stop, or turn, the only place to go was straight on over a rather low bank. They did this, going over the bank with all wheels locked, and slithered down a very steep slope on the other side of what appeared to be a dried-up river bed.
Being a. resourceful sort. of fellow, Cahal kept the car moving, drove along the river bed and a few yards further on, came to a gentle slope that the car could climb, went up this, back over the bank and on to the road once more without stopping.
During the entire manoeuvre, not a word had been exchanged by either driver, navigator or passenger, although in the few seconds before they went over that first bank, the conversation had been quite animated. The silence lasted for another half mile or so until the long-suffering passenger broke the silence with: “for ****‘s sake, what’s
going on around here?” A plea that caused untold amusement.
Needless to say, Cahal is very anxious to improve on this year’s very fine result in the Gallaher “Circuit“ for next year, and to this end, has decided to go Group 6, with a full 2-litre engine, in the familiar Escort which will be much lightened as well. This. backed up by Donald McEnaney‘s unequalled preparation should make the car ultra-competitive, although, if recent results are anything to go by, it’s no sluggard at the moment.
Cahal and his wife Margaret have, at present no family (although this situation is to be remedied before the end of the year) by which time he could Well have c1inched another Ulster Rally Championship into the bargain. As if this isn‘t enough, “CB” is at present lying third in the RAC Rally Championship, after his performances in the “Gallaher,” the “Texaco“ and the Manx, only one point behind joint leaders Colin Malkin and Ove Andersson. Not bad after just three and a half seasons!
Ulster has always been noted for producing top class rally drivers, after the fashion of Paddy Hopkirk, and there are many people currently rallying in this country, who wouldn‘t disgrace themselves if given a works drive. However, if one person really deserves a factory car it‘s “CB”, and who knows, it mightn‘t be all that long before he gets one!
[Photos from various sources in that time period.]