1969 March 29 Rally Notebook


These items by Terry Harryman first appeared in Motorweek dated 29 March 1969.

Not Quite so ‘Lowly’.

And now to the Gallaher “Circuit”. Unfortunately the organisers seem very reluctant to give away any information about numbers so it is not surprising that there are so many “wild” rumours going around.

It appears that something I heard and wrote about last week was a bit off the beam and Messrs Boyd, Smith and McSpadden/McBurney are not seeded quite as lowly as suggested. It does seem that the latter crew are in fact still a little further down the list than they deserve. Having been taken for a demonstration run in their Schneitzer-tuned BMW 2002 the other night, Reggie and Robert rate even higher in my estimation for a good overall placing.

This car is one of the most exciting I have ever sat in, “works” Porsches, Fords, Lancias and Minis included. Perhaps “exciting” will give the wrong impression, but believe me this car is no “straight-line drag monster”; the engine is surprisingly “torquey” considering that it develops at least 170 DIN B.H.P. and revs rather freely, and is coupled to a beautifully ratioed 5-speed gear-box that is as good as anything that Porsche produce. The whole set-up handles fantastically and the stopping department is a complete revelation. With a bit of luck this car should finish really well up.

From the latest Press Release from Bill Kinnear it would seem that quite a number of crews have moved from the classes in which they were originally entered. The Derek Boyd/Norman Smith Lotus Cortina is how running in the large Group 5 class and will be mixing it with Cathal Curley/Austin Frazer and Barry Lee/John Coles in Escort Twin-Cams.

Paddy Dolan/Mick Silke have moved their NSU TTS into the smaller Group 5 class where they will come up against such people as Dessie McCartney/Mervyn Johnston, John McClean/Hal Patton, Ronnie White/Harold Hagan, Stuart Brown/Stuart Parker and John McAlorum/Ian McFarland.

Will Sparrow/Nigel Raeburn must have done something pretty drastic to their 1293 “S” as they have jumped straight from Group 2 to Group 6 where they meet such people as Clark/Porter (“works” Escort TC), Hopkirk/Nash (“works” Cooper “S”) and Adrain Boyd/Beatty Crawford (Cooper S)

Apparently Ford have been unable to prepare a car in time for the event for Rosemary Smith/Alice Watson so they will be using a Lotus-Cortina entered in Group 2 for them by Auto Extras who have also entered the LHD BMW 2002TI of Roy Fidler/Barry Hughes.

Anyway, despite all the changes that have taken place, each of the 10 classes will be very hotly contested so that this will definitely be a “Circuit” to remember. To all of the competitors, especially the local crews, and the organisers, I will say “Good Luck”; to all the service crews “Happy Mechanicking”; and to all the spectators, “Have Fun” but at all times please do as officials and the police ask you.

Omagh Rally – Better Late than Never

There was a flurry of activity up Omagh way last week when it was found that a report of the local club’s Pre-Circuit Rally had not found its way to Motor Week.

Seamus Kearney kindly filled us in over the blower and if we have got some of the details a bit uncogged don’t blame him, he did his best! We owe him a debt of gratitude for passing on one of Jackie Sloan’s splendid photographs which we decided deserved front page treatment.

To business. The “Pre-Circuit Rally,” which started from Omagh, was on the 14th March. There were 36 starters and 26 finishers. The first half was on Tulip and the rest on ordinary navigation. First overall was the Cahal Curley/Austin Frazer team in an Escort TC who lost 9.7 marks.

Ashley Armstrong and Harry Johnston were flying high on the Omagh Pre-Circuit. Photo by Jackie Sloan.

The rest of the results were as follows:

Class 1 — 1st, H.Cathcart/G.Morrison (Cooper) 13.9; 2nd, W.A.Armstrong/H.P.Johnston (Cooper) 46.

Class 2 — 1st, E.Oliver/D.Turkington, (Imp), 46; 2nd, W.J.Ferguson/A.J.Clarke (Escort GT), 48.7.

Class 3 (Novice) — 1st, B.Fisher/J.Brown (Mini) 43; 2nd, T.Lavery/P.Johnston (Cortina) 60.3; G.Deane/W.Crooks (Riley) 60.4

A good time was had by nearly everybody with the possible exception of Ronnie White and Harold Hagan who had valve trouble (un-confirmed) after the 2nd selectif. On the 3rd selectif Norman Reid and Jim Taggart, came off second best when they hit a wall but they still went on to finish.

O.O’Hagan and I.McFarland performed quite an unusual feat, even for a rally, when they mounted a thorn bush and had to have help lifting the car back to the ground.

Jackie Sloan’s photograph shows Ashley Armstrong and Harry Johnston’s Cooper airborne and spitting fire somewhere along the route. They came second in Class 1.

Cold Shoulder for RAC Plan

Naturally, with the Gallaher “Circuit of Ireland” less than a week away, all the “gossip” going round at the moment concerns this. However, at a recent meeting of the Association of N.I. Car Clubs another International Rally came in for considerable comment, this, of course, being the proposed “Tour of Britain”. There is no doubt that this event will not be coming to Northern Ireland this year and, judging by the way the Association members unanimously agreed to veto Jack Kemsley’s plans, I would say that it is very unlikely that the event will ever encroach on our territory.

The main reason for the Association being unwilling to have anything to do with this “Tour” is of course, that it would entail one of our own events forfeiting its Road Closing Orders. As only the “Circuit” and the “Texaco” are entitled to these privileges, the Association rightly felt that it would be unfair to spoil one or other of our two biggest rallies so that the R.A.C. would be able to justify their events European Championship status.

On top of this the Association were concerned about the way the R.A.C. had tackled the whole thing. The first they knew about it was when it appeared in local papers that it was intended to bring the “Tour” to Ireland. Then Mr. Kemsley wrote to them and advised that he wanted the local Clubs to lay on and fully staff a nine-hour section in Ulster with as many Closed Road sections as possible. In return, the R.A.C. would allow 70 local competitors to take part in the Ulster section of the event but the local clubs would have to supply any prizes to be awarded to them.

Undoubtedly there will be some competitors who would have liked to have taken part in an event like this and quite honestly who could blame them? But the Association must be congratulated on their handling of this affair and especially on the diplomatic way in which they turned the R.A.C. down. Perhaps if the R.A.C. had displayed similar diplomacy they would have found the N.I. Clubs to be more co-operative. Possibly, the way they handled the matter was not altogether their fault as it would appear that they had been led to believe by some individual(s) that they would be welcomed in Ulster with open arms. Obviously some people would welcome the event but those who can foresee the possible effects it would have are not happy and are taking no chances.


Quite a long time was spent discussing this topic but the Association still found time to sort out a few other matters. The Autocross Championship classes were sorted out in a very straight forward manner there will just be four classes and these will be for ALL cars up to 1000cc, ditto 1001-1300cc and ditto over 1300 cc, and ALL Specials;

Surprisingly there aren’t separate classes for Front-Wheel drive, Rear-engined or orthodox Front-engined Rear-wheel drive cars, nor are Sports cars and Saloons separated. Therefore it would appear that only a few cars are going to be competitive in the first three classes mentioned; in the up to 1000cc Class I can’t see much that will beat a 999 ‘S’ or a Rallye Imp, while the 1300 class must be a 1275 ‘S’ variant benefit. Unless the Association are intending that certain saloons should run in the Specials class, an overbored 1275 ‘S’ or a certain Porchewagen must clean up in the big saloon class. Of course if the conditions are favourable an Escort TC or even a Lotus-Cortina could sort them out but it’s rather doubtful.

The Specials class is a different kettle of fish completely and here we’ll see quite a variety of machinery although naturally Beach Buggies will be in the majority with Mini derivatives close

For the N.I. Round of the Players No. 6 Championship, different classes altogether will be run to conform with the Regs for this series. As this is now an R.A.C. recognised championship series the classes must conform with the requirements as laid out in the Motor Sport Year Book. Under this system each of the above types of car is catered for with a class of its own and sports cars and saloons don’t have to run together.

Another thing that the Association decided was that they would hold a special dinner for the presentation of awards to all the Championship winners. With three Championships going this year the idea of a prize-giving function is a very good one and I would say that if the Association pick the right spot and the right night, this could be the “do” of the year.


A reminder from Morton Hale, Chairman of the Newry Club, that there will be a film show in the British Legion Hall, Monaghan Street, Newry, on Monday next at 8 pm. Everyone including non-members will be welcomed.


We had some inquiries about the Institute of Advanced Motorists after a picture of some of the officials appeared in last week’s issue. Just in case anyone else is keen in joining this very worthwhile outfit, allow us to introduce a very pleasant secretary Mrs. Sheelagh Davidson who lives in Bangor and can be phoned at 60362.

When We informed her that the entire Motorweek staff consisted of retarded motorists she thought we were joking. The P.R.O. is Peter Dodson, who dropped in for a chat this week. A keen road safety man (as are all the members of the Institute) he told us that they are holding a “Night-Light Rally” on Saturday 3rd. May which continues into the wee small hours of Sunday morning.

The event is run in conjunction with Gilnahirk Radio Station M.C., the Northern M.C., the Civil Service Motoring Association and the members of the Walker (U.K.) club. There are no timed sections, so the whole thing is quite relaxing, but there are driving tests and, reading between the lines, we imagine they could be tough for retarded drivers like us. The route will be between Belfast and Newcastle, says Peter non-committally and they expect to attract an entry of some 30 or 40 cars.