1963 October TAH Rally Gossip

Terry Harryman pulls no punches!


This summary of Ulster events is reproduced from The Ulster Motorist Magazine, October 1963.

Dungannon Test-trial.

AMONG the first of the season’s events was the Dungannon Motor Club’s test-meeting at Cluntoe airfield early last month. This attracted the fairly good entry of 29, these running in four classes.

Naturally the bulk (14) were in the up to 1000 c.c. class, but there were no fewer than 9 large saloons present as opposed to only 4 open cars and 2 in the once very popular 1000-1300 c.c. class, these latter pair being a Cooper S and a lone “Beetle.” Six tests were laid out, most of them being quite long, with times well over the 30 second mark, with 20 seconds being beaten only once in one test.

Outstanding performances were put up by Harold Hagan (Midget), who set F.T.D. in the first 3 tests and took a “2nd” in the fifth one; Ronnie White (Sebring Sprite) had three “2nds” and a “3rd.” Mervyn Johnston and Ronnie McCartney (both in Mini-Coopers) had 1 fastest and two “2nds.” and 2 fastests and 3 “thirds” respectively, and William Elliott (1500 V.W.) with a fastest and a 2nd fastest. Others with good times were Ted Hobson and Robin Steenson (Minis), Maurice Acheson (Cooper S) and Bob Eakin in his newly acquired 1500 VW.

The Overall win went to McCartney by 3 seconds from Hagan, with White a mere 0.6 behind. These three were followed by Johnston, Elliot and Hobson. Classes went to Hagan, McCartney, Acheson and Elliot.

1963 Omagh Scallon Cup

The next event, at the end of the month was, of course, the Scallon Cup, this being the Omagh Motor Club’s Rally Championship qualifier and the sixth round of the series. Unfortunately the hoped-for entry did not materialise, mainly as a result of the clash with the Kirkistown meeting the following day. Something else which didn’t materialise were the also hoped-for special stages. However, and despite this, the event must go down as the best so far in the championship series.

As is now popular, it was run in two parts, the first being a 17 odd mile run round 8 tests for which 75 minutes were allowed, and the second being a 100 mile road section, most of which was at 30 m.p.h. In between these there was a one-hour supper interval in the Royal Arms, Omagh. The tests, which were in a fairly moist state, were quite open affairs calling for fast, precise driving rather than “gimmickry.”

Best performance in the tests was put up by Robin Steenson (Mini) who took 218.0 seconds to complete the 8 tests. Right on Robin’s heels was Ronnie McCartney (Mini-Cooper) who took a whole tenth of a second longer. Third and fourth fastest were Robert McBurney, in his very potent 1500 “Okrasa-wagon.” and Harold Hagan (Midget) with 221.9 and 222.9 respectively. Fastest time of the night would have undoubtedly gone to Ronnie White (Sebring Sprite), had he not left the road in the final test – a long slippery “wiggle-woggle” and incurred a maximum score.

The road section was very good, consisting of a short run-in to the start of a 28 mile Eight clubs section which took the field nearly to Ballygawley and then north to Sixmilecross. This was over tarred roads and easily‘ “on” but after this the timing got considerably tighter. It was a pity that the field had to be held up twice during the run so that officials could get to later points.

Despite these “rests” crews still felt the pinch, especially in the last 40 miles, which were over some quite juicy roads. The route led north from Sixmilecross and then north-west to Gortin before turning south to finish near Omagh. Only one crew came through this lot “clear” – John Eakin and Mike Hart (Sprite). Next to them, one minute down (5 marks) were McCartney and Harryman followed by Ronnie and Doris White (6 minutes). Jack Keatley/Norman Devlin were down 9 minutes, and Ashley Armstrong/Harry Johnston on 11 minutes.

Among those to run into trouble were Robert McBurney and Beatty Crawford, who suffered a puncture, lost the use of their clutch and then finally retired when they shed a front wheel. Harold Hagan/Derek Turkington and Robin Steenson/Ian Turkington got badly lost just before the final control, with the former retiring. Reggie McSpadden and John Armstrong daringly turned up at the start with the rather well-known V.W. which they used last year. Fortunately, last year’s incident was not repeated, but they had anything but a trouble free run. They incurred 2 wrong approaches and lost a total of 190 road marks.

The results, which were worked out fairly quickly. showed McCartney/Harryman to have won from Eakin/Hart, White/Miss White, Keatley/Devlin, Norman and Isobel Thomson (Imp) and Ted Hobson/Austin Frazer (Mini).

Ulster Rally Championship Standings

PROVISIONAL placings in the U.R.C. following the Scallon Cup are as follows:

  1. Ian Woodside (43 pts.);
  2. Ronnie White (31):
  3. Robert Woodside (28):
  4. Robert McBurney (27):
  5. Harold Hagan (25):
  6. Paddy Hopkirk (24):
  7. Dennis Bell (20):
  8. John Eakin (18 equal):
  9. Thompson Glass (18 equal):
  10. John McClean (18 equal):
  11. Ronnie McCartney (17):
  12. Jack Keatley (13).

U.A.C. Navigator Trophy and Rally School

Details have recently been received of the U.A.C.‘s annual Navigators‘ Trophy which their Trials & Rallies committee are presenting. The competition will be decided on a points system, with points being awarded to navigators in relation to their performances on the road sections of the qualifying events. Twenty points will be awarded to the navigator losing the least number of road marks in each event, with the second man getting 19, the third 18 and so on down to twentieth position. In the event of two or more competitors losing equal marks, then they will share the points for the places they fill. i.e.. if three people return clear sheets then they each gain a third of the total of 20, 19 and 18 points. i.e.. 19 points each.

It is nice to see the club instituting a competition of this kind and even better to see that they have used the method of deciding which they have. However, it’s a pity that it has got off to such a bad start in that only two events have counted so far, with only a further two to be run, these being the “Night-Owls” in October and the “Go-as-you-please ” in November, although it remains to be seen whether the latter will in fact count.

Registers are now available for a very novel type of event to be run in October and November by the U.A.C. This will he a navigation school, the venue of which will be the U.A.C. rooms in Bedford Street, Belfast. The event will be held on Wednesday nights commencing on the 16th October and lasting six weeks. The first night will be devoted to finding out all about maps and how to use them with Eric Boland as Clerk of the Course.

After this, Robin McKinney will lay out a “route” which will explore the complications of regulations etc. On the third night, two competitors (one from each side of the car) will give their views on the equipment necessary and team-work. Frills (not thrills!) and pitfalls is the theme of the next session, when Chris McLaughlin will explain Tulip cards, Eight of Clubs sections, standard time, and various other complications.

The penultimate class will be out on the road, when students will be able to practise all they have learned over a course set out by Kay Kirk. In “Mopping Up”, Robin McKinney will go over the whole lot and explain anything which isn’t too clear. Entry fee is 1/- per class and the start at 19.45 hours. Map required is Sheet 5. Entry forms are available from U.A C. and entries close on 12th October.

“Machinery changes”

Now that “the season” is starting, there are quite a number of machinery changes being made. With more and more highly tuned and sometimes super-charged Sprites and Mini-Coopers arriving on the scene, Thompson Glass has decided that extra urge is required from his Hayrake to keep up with the opposition. So the car is being fitted with a Cortina G.T. engine and gearbox and its A40 back axle is being replaced by one from an A70!

Whether all the 78 b.h.p. available will be useable at the back wheels in so light a car (in tests anyway) remains to be seen, but Thompson is undoubtedly going to miss the straight first-to-reverse change of the old 3-speed gearbox. On road sections, however, there should be no trouble in getting all that power through to the road as the new navigator will definitely keep the rear wheels on the deck!

Thompson has secured the services of Chris McLaughlin, who will navigate for him in all but U.A.C. events this season. Car, driver and navigator should prove to be quite a powerful combination. Incidentally, I hear that Thompson met up with ex-passenger Fenton Coulter at Monza (of all places!) recently.

Another new machine. which made its debut on the Scallon Cup, is the D.K.W. F.12 of Donald McEnaney. It should be very interesting to see how this performs although it will undoubtedly take Donald, who has been V.W.-mounted for the past couple of seasons, some time to get used to front wheel drive 2-stroke motoring. The car itself, which is, I believe, the first in Ulster, is very similar to the Junior model from the same stable, but has a slightly wider track and longer wheelbase, inboard disc brakes at the front and a bigger, more powerful engine.

It is reputed to have “filled” its 90 m.p.h. clock already, while the handbrake seems to do its job just as local test conditions require. The handling is said to be first class. For the longer type of rally, where the accent is not on driving tests. it should prove very competitive.

I hear that Robert Woodside is going to sell his Alexander-Cooper in the near future and will probably replace it with an Okrasa-V.W. At the moment there is only one of these in captivity in the local rally world, that of Robert McBurney, but I understand that others may appear soon.

Incidentally, Robert McBurney, whose 1500 is now equipped with Porsche wheels (when they stay on!) and is really flying, seems very interested in making a trip across the water in November for that tour round England, Scotland and Wales.

Still in the machinery department, Donald Grieve has disposed of his blue and white Mini and replaced it with a similar yoke in red. As usual the running-in period has been well looked after, with the car being thrashed up to Strabane round the N.I.M.C.‘s September Rally course and back to Belfast within a few days of delivery! Reggie McSpadden, having got rid of the 1500 V.W., is now waiting for one of the big beetles in S-form. With the extra 12 b.h p. claimed, these machines should prove even more competitive (if that is possible!) than they are at present. The addition of the extra carb. has really opened up the way to ameliorating its performance without having to go to Group 3 tune. It is rumoured that these “racing” V.W.s will be around in the latter part of September.

Strange how manufacturers all seem to be using this “S” designation these days. Among those who are doing so are Mercedes (220 S. etc.), B.M.W. (700 S), V.W. (1500 S). and B.M.C. (Mini-Cooper S). I wonder how long it will be before some other well-known manufacturers join in, bringing out such models as the Imp’S’ or the Prinzess?

The latter reminds me that Ray Noble, who missed last year’s Circuit, but competed with considerable success in previous years, mostly in Morris products (Minis on the last two occasions) is likely to be seen in an N.S.U. in next year’s event. Seems that the strongly rumoured 1 litre model from Neckarsulm has taken his fancy. From all reports it should be quite desirable for the competition motorist as it will be little bigger than the Prinz IV but the 4 cylinder O.H.C. engine will undoubtedly be capable of propelling it quite a bit faster. It is anticipated that it will “arrive” in about mid-Autumn.

Upcoming events

The rallyist is now in the middle of what is probably the busiest part of the year, there being no fewer than 18 events in just over two months. Of this total, ten are night rallies, two are day rallies, four are test trials and the remainder are test-meetings. By the time this appears in print, events that will already have been run are the Scallon Cup, the Dungannon Motor Club’s September Rally. the S.T.O.C.’s Downland Rally. the Larne club’s test-trial and Newry Motor Club’s test meeting at Cranfield. North of Ireland Motor Club will have held their September Rally, and the Knock Motor Club their test-trial.

The Mid-Antrim Motor Club’s September event used to be a fairly good rally, but last year a test-meeting at Clinty quarry was held instead. Omagh M.C. have their September Rally on Wednesday 25th, while Armagh M.C. have the 28th for another Megaberry test-meeting. On the following Friday the Dungannon club run their championship qualifier, the Night Rally. Unfortunately this, like the Scallon Cup, clashes with a speed event — the Knockagh Hill-climb – the following day.

Whether this will have the same effect as Kirkistown did on Omagh remains to be seen, but the championship placings are a lot more interesting than at this stage last year and should ensure a good battle for points. A week later Mourne club have a date with the Larne M.C.’s Tresna Cup event next day. This will probably consist of half a dozen tests and a short (one hour) road section.

Newry have another date for a test-trial on the 19th, while the following week-end brings us to the U.A.C.‘s championship round, which will be the re-run Night Owls. This, I am told, will follow the traditional Night Owls pattern of navigation, navigation and more navigation, although all will be straight-forward.

It seems unlikely that there will be any tests during the night, while it is suggested that the supper halt will be at a north-coast holiday resort. A survey of all but the final few miles has been done so no finish has been decided. This will, undoubtedly, be one of the events challenging for the title “The Year’s Best.” Don’t miss it!

R.A.C. and Circuit of Ireland

The regulations should be available soon for the R.A.C.’s Rally of Great Britain. ‘Tis said that start, intermediate halt and finish will all be in Blackpool this year. This should encourage any intending local competitors as it means that one has only a few miles to go to get the wreckage back to the boat home! It is to be presumed that the event will again be a “rally of the forests” and that a fairly rapid and rigged vehicle will therefore be a necessity.

Talking of International rallies reminds me that next year’s Circuit is getting close. Apparently most of the route surveys have been carried out already, so it would seem that all should be prepared in the not too distant future and it will be no time before the regulations are out. What with navigators‘ trophies and navigation classes, don’t be surprised if next year’s event is well and truly won on the road.


Craigantlet saw the Hillman Imp’s competition debut in Ulster, and a winning one also for Norman Thompson collected Class 4 – a handicap class for saloons driven by drivers who have not previously won an award in a speed event. Miss Pat Barr was second in her Austin Cooper.