1963 Queens Winter Rally

Norman and Isobel Thompson, seen here on the 1963 Starlight, set some good times in their diminutive Imp.

Ronnie and Doris White take well deserved win. 

This report is reproduced from Autosport magazine – December 27, 1963

The tenth event in the 1963 Ulster Rally Championship was the Queen’s University Motor Club’s Winter Rally, held on 9th-10th December. 

This was a half-nighter over an excellent and tight 120-mile route which included 46 manned time checks in 92 miles. There was heavy frost but luckily the roads were dry and no serious incidents took place. Very worthy winners were the brother and sister team of Ronnie and Doris White (Sebring Sprite) who lost no fewer than 1023 marks at the rate of l0 marks per minute lateness. From the start at Dromore (sheet 10 popular series) Ronnie McCartney/Terry Harryman (Alexander Mini-Cooper) were first away of the 40 strong field, with Paddy Hopkirk/Bill Beanie (M.G. 1100) having the position of “Tail-end-Charlie”. 

The first section was an easy six-minuter followed by a 1 min. through the white at 160/518 and only the Whites, Derek Boyd/Beatty Crawford (Alexander Mini-Cooper) and Colin Andrew/Donald Grieve (Mini-Cooper S) managed this on time.  A number of people went a mile or so down the main road before they realised their mistake and Maurice Acheson/Jack Long (Mini-Cooper S) dropped 7 mins. 

There then followed eight more tight but straightforward time checks before a 6 min section over the River Bann caused a wholesale loss of marks. Most people thought the correct route was through the ford at 119/468, but found this impassable and went the long way round through Banbridge. Only Fred Stinson/Douglas Nairn (Mini) were on time and took the intended route through 170/491 and over the bridge at 113/486.

The first stage finished at the exact time point 16 and here the leaders were Boyd/ Crawford, who were 6 mins. down, followed by Ronnie and Doris White (8 mins.) and Norman Thompson/Mrs. Isobel Thompson (lmp). Fred Stinson/Douglas Nairn and Colin Andrew/Donald Grieve, all with 9 mins. 

Already out were McCartney/Harryman with a broken drive shaft and Ian Woodside/Esler Crawford (M.G. Midget) with a broken differential. This occurred during the first of the two driving tests, which were obviously going to be a mere formality. Best in the test was Derek Boyd. Robert Woodside who was “running in” a newly installed Okrasa engine in his VW had his reversing lamp fall off in this test, while Paddy Hopkirk had no reversing lamp at all and Ronnie McCartney, who was now “passengering” with Paddy, was earning his keep by shining a torch out the back window when required.

The rally now moved on to sheet 8 (3rd series) with nine more time checks averaging between two and three mins. apart. This section caused great loss of marks and best were Andrew/Grieve (200 marks lost) followed by Acheson/Long and Norman Thompson/Mrs. Isobel Thompson with 210 marks lost. Trouble was caused by an uncooperative farmer blocking the road at 001/375.

Brian Mitchell/Norman Henderson (Sprite) had retired with a crumpled wing after hitting an unexpected patch of ice, while Billy Dick/Frank Main (Turner) lost too much time when the fan belt came adrift.

Next came an excellent stage with time checks separated by 2, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 2, 4, 2, and 4 minutes.  This was followed by a straight line navigation stage which really  caused a great slaughter and was undoubtedly the deciding part of the rally.

This was due to the fact that Clerk of the Course David Mitchell had discovered a number of “goers” not marked on the allegedly newly-revised sheet 8 and those navigators who tried to follow the route on the map (quite rightly, of course) got themselves in great trouble, while those who stuck to the route card were relatively all right. For example, a road goes through 920/346 where apparently none exists, while in square 9037 and 9038 a new reservoir has entirely changed the roads there. 

Boyd/Crawford, Acheson/Long and John Eakin/Michael Hart (Sprite) had quite a mystery tour here, while Dennis Bell suffered from drive sickness. Best through this stage were Ronnie and Dorris White who dropped 190 marks and who, along with Andrew/Grieve were the only team to visit time check 46. Next best were Norman Smith/ T. Wilson (Mini) with 560, followed by Bell/Colin McMeekin, who lost 740.  Robert Woodside had a puncture and this contributed to his loss of 1060.

This ended the meat of the rally and there only remained a 25-mile run in to the finish back at Dromore where another driving test took place. Although this was obviously of little significance, Ronnie White made no mistake and had best time here. The results showed Ronnie and Doris White as victors with 1023 points lost, while a very excellent second place was taken by the novice under-graduate team of Norman Smith/T. Wilson. Third were Boyd/Crawford followed by Hopkirk/Beattie. 

A large number of crews were excluded for being outside the time limit and there were only 12 classified finishers.

D. Beatty Crawford.


  1. Ronnie White/Doris White (Sebring Sprite), 1023 marks lost;
  2. Norman Smith/T. Wilson (Mini), 1550; 
  3. Derek Boyd/Beatty Crawford (Mini-Cooper), 1740; 
  4. Paddy Hopkirk/Bill Beattie (M.G. 1100). 1932; 
  5. Fred Stinson/Douglas Nairn (Mini), 1953; 
  6. Robert Woodside/Brian McMeekin (Volkswagen) 1961.