1969 Larne June Autocross

Photo: Esler Crawford
John McAlorum's ex-McCartney "Bucket" cocks up a rear wheel as it streaks to victory.

Article reproduced from Motorweek 21 June 1969.
Report and Pictures by Esler Crawford.

McAlorum leads the field at Newtownabbey.

At the end of last season’s Autocrossing, Des McCartney sold his very successful Mini Sports Special – popularly known as the “Bucket” — to build himself an even more potent car for this season. However, the results of the first two autocross meetings of the season would suggest that he might have been better holding on to the Bucket.

In the Dungannon event on June 11th, McCartney’s new car – the “Scoop” – was soundly beaten by John Jones‘s stripped 1275 Cooper S (alias the “Iron Lung”) and then at the Larne event at Newtownabbey last Friday evening Jones was beaten by the Bucket’s new owner, John McAlorum.

Therefore, all other things being equal, it is a reasonable supposition that the Bucket should easily dispose of the Scoop!

Of course, all other things are not always equal! The Larne event took place at the club’s very fast “permanent” track at Church Road. After a week of very dry weather the course was extremely tart, and rather bumpy with vast clouds of dust making things difficult for the drivers and rendering overtaking a somewhat hazardous procedure.

Obviously an open-air type, Robert McBurney hurls the GP Beach Buggy – powered by Porsche on this occasion – to second place overall.

The battle for Fastest Time of the day was a close and fascinating one. The first really fast time on the first of the two three-lap runs was recorded by John Jones who took the “Iron Lung“ round in the rather breathless time of 2mins 1.6 seconds. However, he also incurred a five second penalty for striking a marker flag. Adrain Boyd thus took the lead with a very neat drive in his rebuilt “Scottish Rally” Cooper with 2m 04.8s. However this was soon eclipsed by McAlorum with 2m 01.8s in the “Bucket.” Then Gordon McBurney did a really excellent 2m03.8s with his Escort Twin Cam.


It also looked as if Ronnie McCartney was on to a fast time in the ex-Robb Pollock Cooper but the car succumbed on the third lap with a broken gearbox extension and a burst tyre. But Robert McBurney’s GP Beach Buggy — now powered by Porsche — had no problems and set fastest time at 2m 1.6s which beat McAlorum by 0.2s in spite of being baulked for half a lap.

Ronnie McCartney in perplexed mood after his Cooper had succumbed to a burst tyre and broken gearbox extension.

On the second run, Jones soon reduced this with 2m 00.2s although he too suffered considerably from baulking. The consistent Gordon McBurney then recorded another 2m 3.8s but then it looked as if Cousin Robert had things all sewn up with a 1m 56.8s in the Buggy. However, this did not allow for the presence of McAlorum who came out in the penultimate group of cars and hurled the Bucket round in the astonishing time of 1m 55.4s to settle the matter while John McClean brought his Cooper into fourth place with 2m 2.4s.


McAlorum then showed that his superiority was no fluke by easily winning the “Fastest Four“ five-lap run-off at the end of the evening in a_time of 3m 6.6s to McBurney’s 3m 12.0s, Jones‘s 3-13.2 and Mclean‘s 3-16.4.

Watching these runs at the hairpin, which is approached at very high speed, it was obvious that McAlorum was making up most of his advantage on braking while the Buggy was faster out of the corner. From the results of the season‘s first two meetings it seems as if we can look forward to a fascinating seasons autocrossing.

Gordon McBurney was a good fifth overall with his standard Escort Twin Cam.

Apart from the battle for outright honours the classes were fought with considerable vigour. In the 1000 cc category, Robin Eyre-Maunsell‘s second run of 2.06.2 with his potent Imp was enough to dispose of Ronnie Mullen’s 2-08.2 achieved at the first attempt as his Cooper expired on the second run. Likewise Dessie Boyd took third place on his first run time as he rolled his Cooper – with astonishingly little damage at the Hairpin on the second attempt. In this class Peter Shannon‘s 998-engined Mini van was a good if
raucous fourth.


Class three was of course the McAlorum, Jones, McClean battle with Adrain Boyd taking fourth place. Class four was a benefit for the McBurney clan. First place of course went to elder statesman Robert. His cousin Gordon was second in the Twin Cam, brother Roy third and brother-in-law Brian Rowan fourth — all in the same hard-worked Beach Buggy!

John Jones having a little trouble getting past Derek Grant’s Sprite during his second run.

Finally, just a couple of general comments. Firstly, people who arrive two hours after their due time should NOT be allowed to compete. It is quite ridiculous that the timed runs should be interrupted while late-comers do their practising. Then the difficulty of overtaking at the Larne event due to the dense clouds of dust might be reduced to some extent bv reducing the number of cars on the course, from say four to three. Also seeding
should be the practice at all events in order to keep together cars of nearly equal performance.


The ambulance was required – for a young spectator who broke his wrist when he fell off a rather high flying swing attached to one of the trees round the course!

Ken Carson’s Ford-MG hybrid adopts a nose-down attitude on one of the bumps.


Class 1 (General Classification)

  1. J. McAlorum (Mini Sports Special) 1 min 55.4 secs;
  2. R. D. G. McBurney (GP Beach Buggy) 1-56.8;
  3. J. D. Jones (Cooper S) 2-00.2;
  4. J. S. McClean (Cooper S) 2-02.4;
  5. G. McBurney (Escort Twin Cam) 2-03.8;
  6. Roy McBurney (GP Beach Buggy) 2-04.4.

Class 2 (Cars up to 1000 cc)

  1. R. Eyre-Maunsell (Hillman Imp) 2-06.2;
  2. R. Mullen (Cooper) 2-08.2;
  3. Dessie Boyd (Cooper) 2-15.8;
  4. P. Shannon (Mini Van) 2-l6.2.

Class 3 (Cars from 1101 to 1300 cc)

  1. J. McAlorum (Mini Sports Special) 1-55.4;
  2. J. D. Jones (Cooper S) 2-00.2;
  3. J. S. McClean (Cooper S) 2-02.4;
  4. A. J. L. Boyd (Cooper S) 2-04.8.

Class 4 (Cars over 1300 cc)

  1. R. D. G. McBurney (GP Beach Buggy) 1-56.8;
  2. G. McBurney (Escort Twin Cam) 2-03.8;
  3. Roy McBurney (GP Beach Buggy) 2-04.4;
  4. B. Rowan (GP Beach Buggy) 2-05.6.