Gentleman George enjoys the sport.
This account, by Richard St. John Young, first appeared in Motorweek dated 8th March 1969.
There can be very few motoring enthusiasts in the North or South for that matter, who don’t know the subject of this week’s profile, George Windrum. George has been around the motor sporting scene for quite a few years now and has competed in just about every kind of motoring event run in this part of the world, often with success.
George has in fact been competing since 1960, that being the year when his now legendary Sunbeam Rapier first appeared in competition. This car, which he kept right up to the end of 1966 became one of the best known competition‘ cars in Ireland, having been raced by its enthusiastic owner at such places as Kirkistown, Bishopscourt, Phoenix Park and Dunboyne, in addition to being hurled up innumerable hill climbs, around autocross fields and in and out of pylons on driving test meetings. George also found time to do a bit of rallying in the midst of it all, and he’s got silverware to prove it!
When one thinks of a car with as distinguished a competition record as George’s trusty Rapier, it is difficult to imagine it being used as a day to day road car, yet this was what it was, and during its hard and active life in George’s tender care it notched up a pretty fantastic mileage.
The fact that he continued to use an ageing Sunbeam Rapier in direct competition with hot Minis and the like against which a Rapier, no matter how well it was driven, hadn’t an earthly, is indicative of George’s attitude to Motor Sport, that it a sport, to be enjoyed and not taken too seriously.
To this end, George has always competed in anything that’s going – from out and out circuit races to driving tests, although he doesn’t often go in for the latter type of event much these days and says he gets lost too easily in among the pylons!
In addition to racing, which he is taking more seriously this coming year than previously, George finds autocross the most enjoyable, and latterly has competed in many of these events with some degree of success. He would also like to see more Rallycross in this part of the world and feels that this branch of the sport has a great future.
BACK TO RAPIER
For 1967 the Rapier was becoming a bit long in the tooth, so a new Hillman Hunter was obtained, fitted with a moderate number of goodies, including a set of Minilite wheels and driven in events all over the place, winning several races, and giving its owner a great deal of pleasure but at the beginning of last year the new Sunbeam Rapier was announced, fast-back and all, and shortly afterwards a nice new green one appeared outside George’s wholesale confectionery business in Castlereagh Place, and the Hunter was sold.
This nice new Rapier was immediately fitted with the alloy wheels off the Hunter and given its competition baptism in a special stage sprint very early in the year, and then at Easter George took it on the Circuit of Ireland with Colin McMeekin, finishing about halfway down the field after a very enjoyable run.
In addition to the Rapier, George invested in a 998cc Imp for racing last year, but in its first couple of outings under the “Wellington Park Racing Team” banner (after that hostelry so beloved of all 500 Club men) this car proved rather slow, and was swapped around mid season for the ex Charles Eyre Maunsell Racing Imp, which, although fitted with the smaller 875cc unit, proved rather faster, “and George collected several pieces of silverware, particularly at Mondello Park, where there was a class for the litt1e’uns.
The Rapier was also raced on several occasions, usually when the Imp was not in terribly good health, and although this afforded quite a bit of amusement for the driver, and on occasion for the spectators, no notable successes were achieved until late last year a Mondello Park when the bold George had a grand dice for the lead with a collection of hairily driven
Coopers, eventually finishing in front.
Always as keen on the social side of motor sport as he is on the sport itself, George has become something of a legendary figure at post race parties, where his classic renderings of “The boys from the County Armagh” will be remembered for years to come, and his tales of hilarious happenings at various motoring ‘do’s’ are well worth listening to, although our legal system being what it is, we are unable to print any of them here!
For this coming season George will again be campaigning the Imp, although the engine room is being drastically modiﬁed to allow downdraught carburettors to be used, and he has high hopes for the car’s performance in the coming season. The Rapier will also be in evidence in the coming season, and we can expect to see a lot more of George Windrum in the months ahead, on the circuits, at the parties and (who knows’?) maybe on the winner’s rostrum as well? It’s certainly about time he had a bit more luck and this could be his year.
Richard St. John Young.