Re-print of an article first published in “Motor Week” on June 28, 1969. Report and pictures by Esler Crawford.
“RESERVE” McCARTNEY MAKES GOOD
The newly instituted Northern Ireland Autocross Championship looks like being a very closely fought and exciting affair. So far in the three rounds that have taken
place there has been a different winner each time and no driver has yet shown himself capable of consistently outpacing all the others. The first round at Cookstown was won by John Jones‘ 1293 Cooper. The very wet BBN round at Templepatrick last Saturday saw Dessie McCartney in his functional Mini Sports Special Mark ll on top, and then the UAC event at Newtownabbey last Wednesday night, in conditions the very opposite to Saturday with clouds of dust everywhere, it was the turn of Ronnie McCartney in the ex-Robb Pollock 1293 Cooper S to take the honours. As a result, Dessie McCartney is leading the Championship with 25 points and brother Ronnie second with 24, while Jones is third on 20 followed by John McAlorum with 14.
McAlorum, who had done so well in the first two rounds with the ex-McCartney “Bucket”, was, unfortunately, a non-competitor in the UAC event as his entry was not in on time – indeed for Ronnie McCartney, it was also “touch and go” whether his entry would be accepted and he was eventually put in as a reserve to be allowed to run if there were any non-starters. He needn’t have worried as there were no less than a dozen non-runners out of the 52 entries.
The event got off to a late start through no fault of the club, but it was a thrilling one with the McCartney brothers, McBurney and Jones in the first heat. Ronnie McCartney was first off but at the end of the four laps, it was obvious that Dessie‘s “Scoop” had gained ground while both had pulled away from McBurney and Jones. And sure enough, the timekeepers gave Dessie a time of 2-27.8, with Ronnie taking 2-30.2, McBurney 2-32.8 and a strangely subdued Jones 2-36.0.
The third heat was also interesting with Ronnie White’s 1310 Cooper and Gordon McBurney’s Escort Twin Cam in contention. However, the very well driven Escort’s run was short lived and it pulled off the track on lap two with a broken half shaft. White managed to do 2-34.6 which put him in front of Jones. And these were the only people who managed to break the 2-40 barrier on the first run. Nevertheless, George Windrums 2-49.0 in his big Rapier was a good effort and Christine Nemece was going well in her imp.
Out came the Big Four for their second run and this time it was apparent that Ronnie McCartney’s tatty but very rapid Cooper, throwing clods of earth high into the sky, was closing on young brothers‘ group. The Timekeepers conﬁrmed this with the Cooper getting a time of 2-26.2 to the Scoop‘s 2-27.0 to set FTD so far. The Beach Buggy, obviously in trouble on the slow corners, was slightly slower at 2-33.0 – not nearly enough.
The question now was: could Ronnie White improve his earlier time by nearly nine seconds? Well, he tried hard but could only get down to 2-33.8 – good enough for a class win out not within a mile of McCartney. In the invitation run-off at the end (which did not count for Championship points) the McCartney brothers had another go at each other, and honour was well enough satisfied when both recorded the same time 2-26.8.
Apart from the battle for the general classification, there were some good scraps in the classes. In the small production car class, Ron Mullan’s 999 Cooper just managed to pip Robin Eyre-Maunsell’s very potent sounding Imp by 0.4 in 2-41.8. Meanwhile, Eyre-Maunsells erstwhile navigator, Peter Thompson, was a good third with 2-45.4 in his very low Cooper. D. L. Innis gave the crowd a thrill on almost the last run of the evening when a wheel ﬂew off his Cooper and disappeared into the undergrowth fifty yards away, but his earlier time gave him fourth place in a very hard worked little car which also took fifth place in the hands of R. E. Moore.
Ronnie McCartney naturally won the class for 1000–1300cc production cars with Jones second but a surprise here was provided by the ubiquitous J. Wilson who managed to beat the experienced John McClean into fourth place.
Ronnie White was a clear-cut winner of the big production car class with Hill Scott’s Escort Twin Cam second in 2-41.2 and George Hammey’s 1293 Cooper third on 2-48.2. There was a good tum- out of VW’s in this class and although outclassed, they had a good scrap with Jackie Murray’s Porsche version just pipping Reggie McSpadden’s genuine (well almost) 1500 and Brian Harknett’s well-driven version.
Dessie McCartney, of course, won the specials class with McBurney second, but it was rather surprising to see that this class was completed by a Cortina G.T. and Sprite – both looking anything but special!
Class 1: Production cars up to 1000 c.c.: 1. R. Mullen (999 BMC Cooper) 2-41.8; 2. J. R. Eyre-Maunsell (998 Sunbeam Imp) 2-42.2; 3. P. G. J. Thompson (998 BMC Cooper) 2-15.4; 4. D. L Innis (997 BMC Cooper) 2-49.2.
Class 2: Production cars from 1001-1300 c.c: 1. R. J. McCartney (1293 BMC Cooper) 2-26.2; 2. J. D. Jones (1293 BMC Cooper) 2-35.0; 3. J. Wilson (1293 BMC Cooper) 2-39.4; 4. J. S.McClean [1293 BMC Cooper) 2 40.2.
Class 3: Production cars over 1300 c.c. 1. R. White (1310 BMC Cooper) 2-33.8; 2. W. H. Scott (1558 Escort Twin Cam) 2-41.2: 3. G. F. Hammey (1293 BMC Cooper’) 2-48.2; 4. J. Murray (15-98 VW) 2-48.8.
Class 4: Specials: 1. D. McCartney (1300 Mini Sports Special) 2-27.0; 2. R. D. G. McBurney (G. P. Beach Buggy) 2-32.8: 3. J. Hagan (1498 Ford Cortina) 2-57.6: 4 F. G. Boyle (Austin Healey Sprite) 3-04.4
1. R. J. McCartney (1293 BMC Cooper) 2-26.2
2. D. McCartney (Mini Sports Special} 2-27.0
3. R. D. G. McBurney (GP. Beach Buggy) 2-32.8
4. R. White (1310 BMC Cooper S) 2-33.3
5. J. D. Jones (1293 BMC Cooper S) 2-35.0
6. J. Wilson (1293 BMC Cooper S) 2-39.4
7. J. S. McClean (1293 BMC Cooper S) 2-40-2
8. W. H. Scott (1558 Escort TC) 2-41.2