1969 Mid-Antrim February Rally

Terry Harryman and Norman Taylor on their way to victory.

Disappointing Entry for Mid-Antrim Event.

This report by Terry Harryman, and pictures by Esler Crawford, first appeared in MotorWeek dated 8th March 1969.

The Mid Antrim Motor Club opened their 1969 competition programme last Friday night with their closed-to-club ‘February Rally‘ over an 80 mile route in the Northern half of the county. This was a very well run event but unfortunately attracted a disappointing entry despite the fact that both experts and non-experts classes were included.

The start was from Clinty Quarry just North of Ballymena where only 18 crews turned up from a 26 strong entry. Of these only two were running in the experts class and after having their watches sealed and being issued with the fairly straightforward route instructions, these two crews led the field away to the West towards Cullybackey from 8 O’clock on.

The route was mostly over fairly fast roads as the area used contains very few narrow, twisty or unsurfaced ones. How- ever despite this most people found difficulty in keeping to the time schedule since virtually all the sections between the 23 controls were short. In fact both the experts crews lost time at the very first control, Roy and Victor McBurney (1622 ‘Beetle’) dropping a minute due to an overshoot, and Terry Harryman and Norman Taylor (NSU TT) dropping four minutes as a result of looking for the control in the wrong place — not due to a navigator error but because the driver mis-plotted!

What was possibly the evening’s most amusing incident happened at this control: The last car in the rally arrived here quite a while after it should have and from the wrong direction. For some reason the official didn’t have faith in the competitors watch (although it was OK at the next control) and decided to enter BBC time from his own Watch. Some Watch he must have, for although this couldn’t have happened after 9 o’clock he wrote down ‘9:87 BBC’. This caused considerable chuckling at the finish.

Anyway from here the route turned to the North before moving further West towards Portglenone with the sections of 3,5 or 7 minutes in length. On the higher ground near Long Mountain there was quite a bit of snow at the roadside while a little more was falling to join it. However this had little effect on competitors progress and most crews managed to clean these and the following sections which led up beside the River Bann before turning East round the North of Long Mountain.

Thirteen is usually reckoned to be an unlucky number for some and for Malcolm Pedlow and Larry Devlin (998 Cooper) Control 13 was their downfall. Approaching it from the wrong direction, they got stuck up a very guttery ‘goer’ and had to call on outside assistance. This wasn’t as simple as it might have been, as the first farmer they called upon explained that one of his calves had savaged his ‘trektor’ and eaten some of the wiring! Our heroes didn’t wait to ask whether the calf was a ‘first time starter’ now or if they could borrow it to pull them from their predicament! Eventually they regained terra firma with the assistance of a venerable Austin ‘Hereford’ which our pair of boys had reckoned wouldn’t be able to pull itself out of the ‘glar’ let alone the Cooper as well. However, such is progress.

The other half of the Experts Class. Roy and Victor McBurney in the family VW.

Control 15 at Kilraughts near Ballymoney was another that caught out both the experts crews who were now running neck and neck. The approach to this control was given as ‘S by E’- which was taken to mean “approaching up the road virtually from the South”. As neither of the navigators concerned had encountered this terminology before they both chose the road from the South-East and in doing so missed the control.

The non- experts who had a slightly easier time schedule, had none of this trouble and in fact Brian Rowan, who usually navigates for Roy McBurney, but on this occasion was driving his own 1300 ‘Beetle’ still had a clean sheet even though this was his navigator Willy Simpson’s first ever rally!

Soon after this the non-experts went straight to Control 22 at Magherahoney while the experts continued with shorter sections of 2, 3, 4 and 5 min. in the area South of Stranocum, these eventually taking them to Control 22. The two minuter from TC18 to TC19 included the evening’s only bit of unsurfaced road but even so it was cleanable.

From Magherahoney, an 8-minuter led up to Orra Lodge over the first half of the oft-used ‘Circuit’ special stage but this proved to be comfortably ‘on’ and most crews had a few moments to spare getting ready for‘ the next section. This was the ‘selectif’ which led South from Orra Lodge over the second half of the ‘Circuit’ test to finish at the usual place just North of Newtown Crommelin.

Less than a week before the event this road was still blocked by snow and in fact, quite a bit still remained on the night. As if this wasn’t enough to contend with, some clowns who were spectating decided to throw some snow onto what was a dry but fairly tight left hander. This may have amused them no end but had any of the competitors got their hands on them they wouldn’t have been so keen to play with snow again!

However nobody came unstuck and fastest over the 4.7 miles run were non- experts John Fullerton and Gordon Parker in the ex-Woodside 1600 Anglia GT in 4 mins. 51 secs. Four secs behind were Harryman and Taylor in the NSU and then T. Speers and W Crawford (1275 S) (5.01) and the McBurney cousins Roy and Victor (5.33).

From here it was straight back to the Ballymena finish in the Leighinmohr House Hotel for the 14 finishers, where tne results were quite quickly worked out and announced. Altogether a very enjoyable little run but what a pity that a few more experts and a lot more non-experts didn’t think it worth their while to turn out.


Experts — 1st, T Harryman and N Taylor (NSU TT) 100 marks lost; 2nd, R McBurney and V McBurney (VW 1622) 135 marks lost. (Only two starters).

Non experts – 1st, B. Rowan and W. Simpson (VW 1300) 0 marks lost; 2nd, J Fullerton and G. Parker (1600 Anglia GT) 30 marks lost; 3rd, W. Thompson and E McCullough (1275 S) 85 marks; 4th, T Speers and W. Crawford (1275 S) 100 marks.