1950 This Is the Boxing Day Trial!

Derek Johnston taking the M.G. TD up Paddy's Brae, assisted by navigator George Bryson.

The Annual U.A.C. Boxing Day Trial

Todd Starts New Season In Form

Report reproduced from The Ulster Motoring Review February 1951, being the journal of the Ulster Automobile Club. Original publication from the collection of Derek Johnston.

The 1950 Annual Boxing Day Trial, which opened the 1951 competition season, was held over a course in County Antrim, with results determined on performances on three observed hills and two driving tests. Portion of the 40 miles route was dyed, the other controls being found by map reference. Despite the reputed severity of this annual event, 29 competitors took part, the entry including 13 closed cars.

From the starting-point at Ballycarry, on the main Belfast-Larne road, the field was quickly led to the foot of notorious “Paddy’s Brae,” which acclivity (upward slope) was to be climbed twice during the trial. It is worth mentioning that the main roads wore a fine coating of ice in places, which fact, combined with heavy right feet, might be responsible for two drivers, Taggart and A. N. Johnston, losing marks at the first control.


The “Brae” appeared to be in great order. At any rate it gave little bother to C. Robb, the first to climb, who ambled up and over the summit. Then came R. J. Adams (Sunbeam Talbot), whose car lost traction in section 18, as did the next man up, Maunsell (Hillman). Billy Chambers (M.G.), got up into Section 16 before wheelspin beat him as it did H. L. S. Jefferson (M.G.), almost in the same spot. J. J. Taylor (Austin), got his saloon up into Section 16 and soon afterwards H. S. Newell (Morris) equalled this feat. A few more mediocre performances ensued before W. P. McCaughey (M.G.), became the first driver since Robb to get up near the summit, actually reaching Section 4. D. H. McWhir (M.G.), baulked in Section 16. Dr. W. N. Jones (Hillman), in a spirited climb, attained Section 10 but was eclipsed by R. G. McBurney (Singer), who allowed the Bantam to pick her own way up and finally attained Section 4. A few moments later W. T. Todd (Humber), made his attempt and, of course, disappeared over the top to make the second and last clean climb of the first attempts.

The first driving test consisted of a free-wheel test, located in a dip in the road so that both forward and backward movement was possible on a dead engine. Best performance here was by Billy Groves (M.G.), in 36.2 seconds, with Ernie Robb (H.R.G.), runner-up in 37.4 secs. Other good performances were by Derek Johnston (M.G.), 39.6 secs. and J. J. Taylor (Austin), 41.6 secs. Six drivers incurred penalty here, mainly because they lost speed on the “forward swing” in the pendulum movement and, since the penalty exacted (our old friend the “sum of the best and worst” totalled the tidy figure of 376.6 secs., it was “Goodnight” so far as that trial was concerned for all six.

The second driving test, held near Glenarm, was that old favourite at a T-junction, which required considerable dexterity with the gear lever. The big names dominated the scene here, with the Humber, equipped as it is with a brake for every gear wheel as well as road wheel, supreme, Wilbur’s effort being enough to shame any physically fit octopus. His time was 38 secs., next best being Derek Johnston, who was only 0.8 secs. outside this time. Garnett Wolseley (Wolseley) and Billy Chambers (M.G.), tied for third best in 34.6 secs., Harvey McWhir (M.G.), registered 34.8 secs. and Billy McCaughey (M.G.), 35.8 secs.


A second observed hill at Gortcarney proved, in comparison with “Paddy’s Brae,” easy and 15 clean climbs were registered. The saloons, of course, were anything but happy. At this stage, too, many found that they had been paying too little attention to the time schedule and the journey back to “Paddy’s Brae ” provided some useful practice for this year’s Ulster Trophy.

The “Brae” was in great fettle for the second climbs, which were opened by Ernie Robb. The H.R.G., however, was not in good fettle and “plonked” up on three cylinders until, in Section 4, the dead cylinder cut in again. Unfortunately, this coincided with the other three cutting out, so the H.R.G. returned disconsolately down the hill. Billy Chambers stuck at the same point, as did Garnett Wolseley, Billy McCaughey, Billy Groves and C. C. Stewart (Ford). On the other hand, Roger McBurney did reach this Section, to prove that his first attempt was no fluke.

Once again the Todd Humber reached the summit, and for a long time it looked as if Todd’s would be the only “clean” of the second climbs. Chris Lindsay urged the Ford up into Section 2, but there he stopped. Cecil Atkinson (Ford) returned downhill to inform us that it was not the acclivity so much as the sun-glare that had beaten him (a shame, after all the beautiful balancing “bumping” which Eileen had put in). Steward of the Meeting Bert McKimn passed up and over the summit. . . but he was on foot. Then, when all seemed over, Wallace Henderson ambled up sedately in the Austin Seven, to make the only other clean ascent of the second climbs.

Well, there it was . . . the Champ temporarily eclipsed by a bitter rival, giving rise to interesting speculation as to the intensity of the battle in future trials. The complete results are :—

Best performances:

1, W. T. Todd (Humber), lost 80.2;
2, C. F. C. Lindsay (Ford), 91;
3, Tie between W. P. McCaughey (M.G.) and C. E. Robb (H.R.G.), 91.4;
4, G. Wolseley (Wolseley), 97;
5, W. B. Groves (M.G.), 102.4;
6, D. G. Johnston (M.G.), 105.41.

Best closed car performance: – R. G. McBurney (Singer), 115.4.
Best Novice: – E. T. McMillen (M.G.), 109.6.

The prizes Were distributed at the Christmas Party held in the Clubrooms on Wednesday, 27th December.