1969 Omagh July Autocross

Photo: Beatty Crawford

This article is reproduced from Motorweek 26 July 1969
Report and Photos by Beatty Crawford.

McCartneys Dominate Autocross

The McCartney brothers again demonstrated their supremacy of the Ulster Autocross scene this year when they took the first two places and most of the major prizes in the Omagh Motor Club’s Championship qualifier at Clogher last Saturday.

Dessie, who was, as usual, driving his “Scoop”, made the fastest time of the day and won his class while Ronnie was second and also the class winner at the wheel of his highly modified 1275 Cooper S. Ronnie White was third in his 12″ wheeled 1302 cc Cooper “S” and Robert McBurney fourth, close behind with his Porsche engined Beach Buggy.

The incredibly tatty Mini of Ronnie McCartney doing a bit of one-wheel motoring.

The Omagh Motor Club have always had great trouble in obtaining a good field in which to hold their Autocross and this year was no exception. However, due to the kindness of Mr. Peter Verschoyle they were able to get the use of his fields at Carney Hill, Fardross, near Clogher.

About 30 years ago this field had been part of a golf course and it hadn‘t been ploughed since so it should have had a perfect surface. However the ravages of time and cows had made it very rough in parts.

Oh, that poor Mini! Ron Patton in glorious mud-slinging action at the Omagh Autocross near Clougher.

An interesting half-mile course had been laid out by Robin English, Clerk of the Course, and his assistants and some of the most exciting Autocross this year was seen. After the start and finish straight the competitors had to negotiate a fast right-hand Bend which led into another short straight.


A long, tight, but well-cambered right-hander followed and immediately there was a bumpy fast left-hand adverse cambered bend. From here the course plunged down the side of a hill into a right-hander which late in the afternoon cut up badly and which was bordered by a bog to catch the unwary.

Another upward climb led to the most exciting part of the course and to the finish. This consisted of two flat out brows between which was a large hollow. Out of the second brow some of the fastest competitors were obviously trying to emulate Apollo 11 and this gave the spectators great value for money.

Peculiarly enough, there was poor spectator attendance which is difficult to explain as Omagh and district has a great motoring tradition and the Syonfin Hill Climb is one of the best-attended motoring events in Ulster.


During practice it was obvious that the McCartney’s were going to be hard to beat on their home ground. A number of competitors were causing great excitement, among these being Michael Dc St. Paer who spun his Sprite at least three times on one lap.

The small saloons, of which there were 21, the largest class by far, started the day’s serious motoring. Each competitor had to do two runs of four laps each and on the first run John Jones (999 Cooper) once again demonstrated his superiority in this class with a time of 2 mins 27.8 sec, which was 4.2 secs ahead of Ron Mullen (Cooper). Will Farren (Cooper) was just one second slower on 2-33.0 and he was followed closely by Mervyn Johnston in his Riley Elf with 2 mins 35.8secs. Peter Thompson had a good time of 2-33.4 in his Cooper but spoilt this by hitting a marker thus sustaining a five second penalty.

The now-famous “Bucket” is beginning to look as though someone has kicked it. Here in the capable hands of John McAlorum it starts a disintegrating act.

By the time the second runs started the course was badly rutted in parts and the cars were taking terrible pounding over the right-hander. As a result, most of the times in the second run were slower but among those to improve were Mervyn Johnston who recorded 2 mins 32.8 to take the third place from Farren.

The only woman to compete, Miss Christine Nemec, proved that she was not just a pretty face by driving her standard Imp with nerve into twelfth place in the class. The Omagh officials with characteristic generosity presented her with one of the tankards which Amoco Oil donated at a social evening later.

The next class was for cars 1001 to 1300 cc’s and Ronnie McCartney had no trouble in winning this. On his second run McCartney could not improve on his first time and so headed home to change his limited slip differential for a standard type in order to compete in the Galway Autocross next day!


Cars over 1300 cc‘s were next out and the main contenders were Ronnie White and Ken Irwin in Coopers, Hill Scott and Gordon McBurney in T.C. Escorts and Robert McBurney and Larry Mooney from Dublin, in V.W’s. Robert’s car with a Porsche engine and Larry’s with a modified 1500 cc engine. Larry, sponsored by J.C.B. has just built the car and this was its first event. However, he didn’t get in contact with the leaders at all.

If Minis can fly, so can Fords. Gordon McBurney demonstrates.

Ronnie White set the pace and his time of 2 mins 23.2 sec was good enough for third overall and class win. Ken Irwin and Hill Scott tied with 2 mins 32.4 sec but Scott had incurred a five-second penalty. Gordon McBurney recorded 2-33.8. On the second run Scott gave the crowds a great thrill when he almost rolled the Escort after taking off over the switch-back all wrong and landing on one wheel. He not only was slower but incurred 15 Penalty points.


The last class for specials contained such names as Dessie McCartney in the “Scoop”, John McAlorum in the ex-McCartney “Bucket”, and Robert McBurney in the Porsche-engined Beach Buggy. On the first run Dessie McCartney recorded 2 mins 18.0 sec and was extremely lucky to finish, as his driveshaft broke on the last lap on landing over the switch-back. However the very considerable momentum carried him over the finishing line 30 yards away.

McBurney had a nonsense, spun the Buggy and could only record 2-30.9 sec while McAlorum sustained a flat front tyre and was even slower on 2-41.6.

Robert McBurney manages to look unconcerned as his Beach Buggy does a spot of leaping.

During the interval between the runs, Rob Pollock went to Omagh and obtained a drive shaft for McCartney and this they fitted in time for the second run!


All this was of no avail as exactly the same thing happened at the same place but this time on the second lap. The most likely reason for this was that the limited slip differential was faulty.

McBurney improved with a fast and steady run but only to 2-24.6 and so it was left to McAlorum to catch the McCartney‘s. In his efforts to make F.T.D. he tried too hard and flew so far over the switch-back that he twisted the car and hurt his shoulder. He carried on, however, and later his boot lid fell off but despite his efforts he could only record 2-24.8. To crown it all he was penalised 5 seconds for hitting a marker.

Beatty Crawford.



  1. D. McCartney (Scoop) 2mins 18.0sec;
  2. R. J. McCartney (1293 Cooper S) 2mins 20.4;
  3. R. White (1302 Cooper S) 2min 23.2;
  4. R. G. McBurney (Beach Buggy) 2min 24.6;
  5. J. D. Jones (1,0. Cooper) 2min 27.8;
  6. A. Irwin (1.0. Cooper) 2min 28.8;
  7. J. McAlorum (Bucket) 2min 29.8
  8. R. Mullen (1.0. Cooper) 2min 32.0;
  9. J. Wilson (1275 Cooper ”S”) 2min 32.2;
  10. K. Irwin (1302 Cooper “S”) 2min 32.4

Class 1 – Cars up to 1000ccs:

  1. J. Jones 2-27.8;
  2. R. Mullen 2-32.0;
  3. M. Johnston (Riley Elf) 2-32.8.

Class 2. — Cars 1001 to 1300 ccs:

  1. R. McCartney 2-20.4;
  2. A. Irwin 2-28.8;
  3. J. Wilson 2-32.2.

Class 3. — Cars 1301 and over:

  1. R. White 2-23.2;
  2. K. Irwin 2-32.4;
  3. G. McBurney (T.C. Escort) 2.33.6.

Class 4. – Specials:

  1. D. McCartney (Scoop) 2-18.0;
  2. R. McBurney (Porsche Buggy) 2-46.6;
  3. J. McAlorum (Bucket) 2-29.8.