1968 Spelga Hillclimb

Tommy Reid is the undisputed King of Spelga, raising the record another time.


This account was first published in Autosport, May 24th, 1968.


HAVING set a new lap record at Kirkistown and equalled the existing one at Bishopscourt already this season, Tommy Reid was again in top form at the very picturesque Spelga hillclimb in the Mourne Mountains on Saturday when he set a new record of 55.61 s in the 1.6 Brabham BT23, entered by Irish Racing Cars. Reid’s record climb came during the last ascent of the day when he knocked 0.26 sec off his old time, set some years ago in a 1.6 Lotus 22.

It was also on the last climb that Archie Phillips pushed his very potent 1.3 Riley Elf into second place overall with a time of 60.48, while Denis Kinghan got a well deserved third place in the 1.6 Crosslé 12F (62.82).

Jim Fitzsimons was much quicker with his Imp than anyone else in the small saloon class and won by almost 13 secs. From practice climbs Andrew Kane was right out ahead in the up to 1100 cc class, having streaked up the hill with his 1.1 Mini-Cooper in 62.90. His luck wasn’t in, however, for
on the official climb he rolled the car and, while he was able to bring it back down the hill on all four wheels, he decided not to make a second attempt.

A good battle between Alwyn Buchanan and D. A. Forsythe, both in 1.1 Mini-Coopers, resulted in victory for the former (65.12). After a first official climb in 64.09, Archie Phillips really got the 1.3 Riley Elf motoring on the second run and he was just too quick for Jim McClements (1.3 Mini—Cooper S),

Making its début in Irish speed events (apart from Roger Clark’s Circuit victory) an Escort Twin Cam was entered in the over 1300 cc class and was much quicker than the opposition. Ronnie Duke’s time of 67.20 gave him a comfortable win over J. Stevenson (1.8 Anglia), while Stanley Porter (2.0 Viva GT) was third. Although Ron Ambrose (Sprite) was fastest of the sports cars up to 1300 cc on the first climb, he was pipped by Michael Neill (Sprite) on the second and had to take second place, with
B. Taylor’s Midget third.

Despite an array of much more modern machinery, Lord Dunleath brought along his 1930 Chain-Gang Frazer Nash, powered by a BMW 328 engine, and proceeded to clean up the class for sports cars over 1300 cc. His first and only climb (67.86) was approached only by Jack Calvert’s 4.0 Aston Martin (69.66), with Mervyn Rolls third in his Triumph TR3.

Starting off at around the 57 s mark, Tommy Reid gradually reduced his time during practice, despite the fact that the Brabham sounded far from healthy. His new record gave him the formula libre class,
followed by Phillips, with Kinghan third.



BTD: T. Reid (1.6 Brabham BT23), 55.61 s (record).

Class winners:

R. Fitzsimons (Hillman Imp), 70.86 s;
A. Buchanan (1.1 Mini-Cooper), 65.12 s;
A. Phillips (1.3 Riley Elf), 60.48 s;
R. Duke (1.6 Ford Escort Twin Cam), 67.20 s;
M. Neill (1.3 Austin-Healey Sprite), 72.61 s;
Lord Dunleath (2.0 Frazer Nash-BMW), 67.86 s;
T. Reid (1.6 Brabham BT23), 55.61 s
I. Graham (1.0 Ford Anglia), 48.46 s (handicap);
Lord Dunleath (2.0 Frazer Nash-BMW), 55.86 s (handicap).