In these days, life is a complicated business. With motor sport in most of its forms on the increase, and new forms of the game, such as rallycross appearing ever now and then and having to be catered for, motor clubs are never short of something to do, and every weekend throughout the year there is a motor sporting event of some kind or another going on, even in the middle of winter.
This is all very well for the casual spectator, and it can also be useful for the competitor as well, since he can, occasionally have a choice of events, but in a small area, there are bound to be clashes and this can, and occasionally did cause much blood sweat and tears among would-be organisers, who, in days gone by found that they had chosen the same date as so-and-so just down the road to run their autocross, and the ensuing wrangling, with letters hurtling to and fro between both clubs and the RAC in London made somebody at the RAC sit down and do a bit of serious thinking.
The resulting idea was a good one, and so Regional associations Motor Clubs came into being, some sixteen associations currently being in operation in the British Isles for the purpose of trying to avoid date clashes between neighbouring motor clubs, promoting regional championships etc.
We in Northern Ireland have had our own association, the Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs, or ANICC, since 1963 when it was formed, mainly to arrange dates for competitions in the, region, with Gordon Neill, of the Ulster AC as Hon. Secretary. In 1967 Dungannon man Ronnie Trouton took over the job of Hon. Sec., – Gordon Neill having moved on to higher things as a member of the RAC Competitions Committee.
Ronnie has remained at the helm since then, and it was to him that We went to find out more about the association, which is now very busy indeed, with several championships on the go and several meetings held during the course of a year to decide the various issues that arise during a motor sporting year these days.
Membership of the Association is confined to those clubs which are RAC affiliated, but this now includes most reputable clubs in Ulster all of whom pay two guineas per annum, and send a delegate to each of the association meetings (there are at least four during the year, with the AGM every January to elect new officers).
Ronnie was able to fill us in on quite a few points about the ANICC that we weren’t sure of. Understandably, the main aim of the Association is, under the guidance of the RAC, to help motor sport in Northern Ireland, and, it is surprising just how much they have done in this respect since 1963. For example, the annual dates
meeting sorts out the various events for the year (in this respect the Northern Ireland Association enjoys
rather more freedom than other regional bodies since there is no danger of “our” dates clashing with those of any other region to the detriment of either event).
In addition, “we” are represented at dates meetings held in the South, to avoid unnecessary clashes between Northern and Southern events. The various championships for Rallies, Autocross and Driving Tests (now “Autotest”) are organised by ANICC, and the classes, rules of scoring, and presentation of awards are also taken care of.
The Team which represents Ulster (usually with great success) at the Ken Wharton Trophy TV driving test is chosen by the Association, which also helps with the team’s expenses. On the Rally side, there is an agreement in force about the use of forestry property in events of various status, and Club organisation is co-ordinated generally to the benefit of all concerned.
Generally speaking, apart from the arranging of dates, the ANICC don’t have much to do with the racing side of things, the reason being that racing in Ulster is, at present catered for by the two organising clubs, 500 MRCI and the UAC, both of whom have things pretty well sorted out. But in other branches of the sport, the active indeed, and the meetings have never yet been short of business.
CROSS CHANNEL SUCCESS
This year, for the first time, ANICC sent a team to England to compete in the Inter Association Driving Test meeting at Tadley, which they (that is, Harold Hagan, Charlie Irwin and Derek Boyd), duly won, much to everybody’s delight. It looks as though this will also become a regular feature!
For the future, the Association intends to continue along the present lines, maintaining close connections with the RAC in London, and looking after the interests of both organisers and competitors alike. Another 1969 “first” was a meeting specifically for competitors, which was held in Belfast, and which attracted a large gathering, many of whom had a lot to say! The result of this meeting was a completely new set of classes for Driving Test meetings, and a similar revision on the Autocross scene.
The competitors‘ meeting is another feature we will see regularly in the years to come!
Ronnie Trouton himself has quite a bit of competition experience, having competed in rallies and driving tests for several years before becoming more interested in the organisational side of the sport, while the other officials, Robert McBurney (Chairman), Austin Frazer (Vice Chairman) and Lynn Kearney (Hon. Treasurer), in addition to representing a good range of Clubs between them, are all well known competitors in their own right, thus dispelling the theory that all “governing bodies” in motor sport are run by decrepit old men who still think you need a man walking in front of you with a red flag before you can drive your car on
the public highway.
Regional associations have been proved a success in the past few years, and nobody would deny that the ANICC has been more successful than most in making local motor sport more harmonious, and, therefore, more enjoyable.