1965 Larne Starlight Rally

The Ford Anglia of Adrian Boyd / Beatty Crawford which has been fitted with the engine from Boyd's racing Marcos.

Report reproduced from Autosport Magazine 24 December 1965
Report by Beatty Crawford, photos by ECP (I think).


ADRIAN BOYD celebrated his return to rallying by winning the Regent-sponsored Starlight Rally in his new ex-Marcos-engined Anglia.  He was navigated by Beatty Crawford and they finished six marks ahead of Noel Smith and Ricky Foote in the Mini-Cooper S.  Robert McBurney and Harry Johnston were third in the 1500 beetle, and would have won but for clocking in at a passage control before standard time.

The Starlight has achieved for itself the reputation of being the toughest and best-organized event in Ireland and this year it lived up to its reputation in no uncertain way. It consisted of eight special stages, which totalled 80 miles, and of 200 miles of navigation which seemed to use most of the rough roads in Ulster. The navigation sections were all very long, there being only 17 time controls, most of the sections being 15 minuters.

Route instructions were given out to the full entry of 75 an hour before the starting time and this gave even the slowest navigators more than ample time to plot all the route.

Lights blazing, the Charlie Gunn / Brian Geary Ford Cortina GT losing no time.

Robert McBurney led the field from the start in Antrim, which was watched by a very large crowd, to the first of the meat of the rally, just outside Castledawson.

It was the very first section which proved to be McBurney’s downfall when he clocked in a minute early at the first passage control. Boyd/Crawford almost did the same thing but caught on in time.  The real surprise about this was the fact that anyone was early here, never mind being on time.  Reggie McSpadden and John Armstrong dropped 5 minutes in their R.A.C. 1300 Beetle due to a navigation slip.

At the end of the first 15-minute section everyone had lost time.  Billy Morrison/Trevor Wilson and Michael Ford-Hutchinson/Ken Atkinson, both in 1275 Mini-Cooper Ss, were down 3 minutes while most of the other experts were down 4.  Most of the top crews managed to clean the next section but at the third T.C. Boyd dropped a minute as did Norman Thompson/Norman Henderson in an Imp, while John McClean/Robin English dropped two. Nobody cleaned the next 15 minuter, since most of the shortest routes were not recommended and, to cap it all, it finished up a very steep rough track, which really showed up the instability of a certain Anglia’s back axle in no uncertain way.  McBurney, Thompson, Smith and Robin Steenson/Ian Turkington (Mini-Cooper S) were best with only one minute down.

Ronnie White, who had Harold Hagan navigating for a change, broke a drive-shaft on this section.  The next three and a half hours were occupied by five special stages. The first of these was in Davagh forest, and 13 mins. were allowed for the 10.6 miles. Charlie Gunn and Brian Geary took their Cortina through in fine style and recorded a time of 16.28 secs. McBurney was only 2 secs. slower. Davagh, as usual, claimed its quota of victims.

The Ford Anglia of Adrian Boyd / Beatty Crawford which has been fitted with the engine from Boyd’s racing Marcos.

After refuelling the crews headed to Moydamlaght forest and 8 mins. were allowed for its treacherous 4.6 miles. Boyd and McBurney tied for fastest time here, both taking only 32 secs. over the set time. John McClean was next, 11 secs. slower. The first right-hander in this forest, McCartneys Bend, not only caught out Robert Woodside who was laying out the route but Gerry McNamarra/Brian Cusack modified the front of their Cortina G.T. on a battle-scarred tree. Others in trouble in Moydamlaght were Ronnie McCartney who had an oil pipe ripped off, this leading to run bearings, Norman Lynas/Chris McLaughlin who put their M.G.B off after an eventful evening. A fabulous stage followed in Banagher, 10 minutes were allowed for the 8.3 miles which utilized some of the tarmac roads. Adrian Boyd was able to get out of first gear for a change and set the fastest time of 12.05 mins. McBurney was 47 secs. slower and Billy Morrison another 11 secs. down.

After a short stop in Limavady for petrol and supper, the field headed into the Sperrin mountains for another one and a half hour’s navigation.  The first two 15 mins. sections weren’t too rough and most of the top crews managed to keep their positions.  The first of these which used the road north of Plumbridge including the famous roads in Butterlope Glen saw McBurney lose 6 mins.- and he was fastest!

The next section used the road from Doraville lodge to the village of Sperrin.  This road had been blocked by snow the day before and the forestry commissioners had kindly opened it especially for the rally.  Most of the leaders cleaned this section, but Boyd dropped 4 mins. partly as the result of trying to get a new battery from his service crew who were asleep!

It was daylight as competitors tackled the Woodburn special stage. Norman Thompson and Norman Henderson in their  Hillman Imp on their way to 13th place overall.

Two more special stages followed, these being Banagher and Moydamlaght again but used in the opposite direction.  Morrison was fastest in Banagher, followed by Shields and Peter McConnell/Denny Erskine in a Tiger, while in Moydamlaght he again set up fastest time.  This time Ken Shields was second and Boyd third.

These stages were run in neutral sections and as it looked likely from the map that they would run out of time and into fails both Shields and Ford-Hutchinson clocked in early at the next control, thus losing marks.  The ironic thing was that they didn’t need the extra time.

The next three sections were all quite straightforward but still very tight minutes being dropped here and there by the leaders right up to the last time control, which was situated near Castledawson.  All that remained now was the final special stage which was situated on the 3.7 miles around Woodburn reservoir.


1, A. Boyd/B. Crawford (Ford Anglia),72 road 97 stage;
2, N. Smith/R.Foote (Mini-Cooper S), 58, 117;
3, R. McBurney/H. Johnston (VW 1500), 74 110;
4, K. Shields/P. Lyster (Ford Cortina G.T.), 118, 103;
5, M. Ford-Hutchinson/K. Atkinson (Mini-Cooper s), 80, 150;
6, Billy Morrison/T. Wilson (Mini-Cooper S), 154, 107.

7, Robin Steenson/Ian Turkington (Mini Cooper S) 137, 246

1, K. Carson/V. McBurney (M.G. Midget), 10 marks lost;
2, A. Hayes/W. Johnston (Ford Cortina G.T.), 48;
3, R. J. Wilson/-—-, 62.

Special Stage Awards (Fastest on each stage):

SS1. Davagh – Charlie Gunn;  SS2. Moydamlaght 1 – Adrian Boyd & Robert McBurney;  SS3. Banagher 1 – Adrian Boyd;  SS4. Cam – Ken Shields;  SS5. Springwell – John McClean;  SS6. Banagher 2 – Billy Morrison;  SS7. Moydamlaght 2 – Billy Morrison;  SS8. Woodburn – Mike Ford-Hutchinson.

This second report is reproduced from Motoring News 23rd December 1965

POPULAR winners of the Lame M.C.’s tenth Starlight Rally, December 10/11, were Adrian Boyd and Beatty Crawford in a Ford Anglia powered by Boyd’s very poky ex-Marcos GT 1.5-litre engine.  This pair had every reason to be pleased by their success, for it was Boyd’s first rally with this car, whilst for Crawford it came immediately after the news that he had qualified as a doctor.  Second were Noel Smith and Ricky Foott (Mini-Cooper S), and third were Robert McBurney and Harry Johnston (1,500 c.c. VW).

The rally, sponsored by Regent, took the form of three navigational sections. interspersed with two neutral sections that included special stages on private roads. Clerk of the Course was Frank Robinson, assisted by Esler Crawford and Robert Woodside, and between them they concocted a very sporting route of 355 miles.

Ample plotting time was allowed before the start at Antrim, and during the one-hour run-in just up the road to Castledawson. There were some 50 starters in the expert’s category, plus a further 25 in the easier “non-expert” class.

The first navigational section, lasting for two hours, meandered through the farm tracks and by-roads of the comparatively flat countryside between Castledawson and Cookstown, before heading over Fir Mountain, where there was just room for cars between melting snowdrifts. Already the McBurney/Johnston VW had been penalised for clocking-in early at the first passage control—an error which cost them victory — and Ronnie White/Harold Hagan had retired with a broken transmission on their Cooper S.

Now came a neutral section of three and a half hours, taking in live special stages and two petrol halts. The results of the first five stages were:

Davagh (10.6 miles in 13 minutes)
1. Charlie Gunn (Cortina GT) 16m.28s.:
2. Robert McBurney (1500 VW) 16m.30s.;
3. Ronnie McCartney (Renault R8), 16m.36s.

Moydamlaght (4.6 miles in 8 minutes):
1= R. McBurney (1500 VW) 8m.32s.;
1= Adrian Boyd (1500 Anglia) 8m.32s.:
3, John McClean (Mini-Cooper S) 8m.43s.

Bannagher (8.3 miles in 10 minutes):
1. Boyd, 12m.05s.:
2. McBurney, 12m.52s.;
3. Billy Morrison (Mini-Cooper S). 13m.02s.

Cam (9.2 miles in 12 minutes):
1. Ken Shields (Cortina GT), 14m.30s.:
2, Brian Mitchell (Sprite), 14m,46s.:
3. Morrison, 15m.39s.

Springwell (5.1 miles in 7 minutes):
1. McClean. 8m.02s.;
2. Shields. 8m.42s.:
3, Morrison, 8m.43s.

Champ! By finishing third in the Starlight Rally, Robert McBurney has assured himself of the title of 1965 Ulster Rally Champion. Seen here at the hairpin in Davagh Forest.

It is hardly surprising that bogie times were out of reach, for it was a wet night and the twisting forestry roads of County Derry were very treacherous indeed. There were many cripples after this little lot.  Most notable retirement was Ronnie McCartney, whose Renault R8 burst an oil pipe in Bannagher Forest and did its bearings no good. Cathal Curley (Cortina GT) lost all his gears on Davagh. Gerry McNamara and Norman Lynas were amongst those whose cars left the road for good at Moydamlaght, generally recognised as the diciest stage of the night. Colin Andrew (Saab) had two punctures, finally retiring at Cam Forest.

Navigational section number two began after a fuel halt at Limavady – 1½ hours of fun and games up and down the sodden wastes of the Sperrin Mountains, on roads that once again ensured that no one would maintain the required average speed. One essential part of the route had been specially snow-ploughed the previous day, very skilfully, however, so that the road was still only just a goer!

There followed a further “neutral” section, during which Bannagher and Moydamlaght were tackled for a second time (same bogie), but in the opposite direction.

Bannagher (second run)(8.3 miles in 10 minutes):
1. Morrison 11m.55s.:
2. Shields. 11m.56s:
3. P. G. McConnell (Sunbeam Tiger) 11m.38s.

Moydamlaght (second run)(4.6 miles in 8 minutes):
1. Morrison 8m.09s.:
2. Mitchell 8m.23s.;
3. Boyd 8m.47s;

A final one-hour rough-and-tumble, starting near Draperstown, led the depleted entry through a series of excruciating lanes on the slopes of Slieve Gallion to a control on the main road near Castledawson once again. From here there was an easy road section to the finish at Larne.

But the carnival was not quite over yet. An interesting little daylight stage at Woodburn, on the hill above Carrickfergus, was thrown in for good measure. Half of the stage, along the edge of the reservoir, was in fact on tarmac, but even so, the bogie time was not achieved.

Woodburn (3.7 miles in 5 minutes):
1. Mike Ford-Hutchinson (Mini-Cooper S). 5m.16s.:
2. Boyd 5m.17s.;
3. Gunn 5m.19s.

One of the last casualties was Jack Bingham’s VW which seized during this stage but managed to limp around to finish. Amongst the Experts, 22 were classed as finishers.

Although it was a tough rally on cars and crews, there did not appear to be any complaints amongst the competitors, in fact, it seemed to be just the sort of event they wanted.

Of the non-experts, who had easier schedules and fewer stages, 16 cars finished, best performance going to the ex-works Midget of Ken Cason and Victor McBurney (Roberts Cousin), who were well ahead of Arthur Hayes and Billy Johnston in a Cortina GT.

The two sets of figures represent special stage penalties (one mark per five seconds), and road penalties (two marks per minute) respectively.

Provisional Results:
1. A. Boyd/B. Crawford (1500 Anglia) 97/72
2. N. Smith/R. Foott (Mini-Cooper S) 117/58
3. R. McBurney/H. Johnston (VW 1500) 110/74
4. K. Shields/P. Lyster (Cortina GT) 103/118
5. M. Ford-Hutchinson/K. Atkinson (Mini-Cooper S) 150/80
6. W. Morrison/T. Wilson (Mini-Cooper S) 107/154
7. R. Steenson/I. Turkington (Mini-Cooper S) 137/246
8. J. McClean/R. English (Mini-Cooper S) 106/312
9. J. O’Brien/R. Charleston (Cortina GT) 200/246
10 C. Gunn/B. Geary (Cortina GT) 108/372