Ronnie McCartney Pulverises Opposition in Queen’s Tests.
This report and pictures, by Esler Crawford, first appeared in Motorweek dated 8th February, 1969.
If Ronnie McCartney carries on in the Ulster Driving Test Championships series in the way he has started off then by the time the final round in Larne takes place in September he will be leading by the proverbial mile.
In last Saturday’s first round, organised by Queen’s University Motor Club at Boyd’s Quarry, Craigantlet, McCartney in his Cooper S simply pulverised the opposition to win by a margin of over 25 seconds. Second to McCartney was David Grant, whose steadiness paid off while all those around him were making mistakes, and third was Ron Mullen. Both these were also BMC Cooper S mounted and indeed BMC cars filled the first 12 places!
It is not a pleasant job to criticise those people who organise motor sport purely for the fun of it but nevertheless it must be said that the Queen’s event was not really up to Hopkirk Trophy standards. Several of the tests were far too tight and more suited to go-karts than road going cars while in some cases the surface was very rough.
Typical of this was the first test in which about half of the field including such experts as Charles Crawford, Ken Shields, Lee Lucas, Charlie Irwin and Ian Woodside all came in contact with one or more markers,
The “pylons” were air-filled cones that bobbed about in the wind and fell over by themselves without a car touching them. Certainly they did nothing to endear the name of Castrol (who supplied them) to the competitors nor did the quart oil cans used in some places.
There were also complaints about the standard of marshalling and even of the timing in one case added to all this a bitterly cold wind with flurries of snow, and mud underfoot did nothing to make people very charitable towards the organisers.
A WORD IN TIME?
However, with the hope that John Beatty and the Queen’s boys will not take this criticism too much to heart and may be able to use it to improve future events, let us get back to the drivers.
As mentioned at the start Ronnie McCartney was in brilliant form in the Cooper S engined Mini he originally built for his wife to use as a shopping car! Out of the eight tests he had fastest time of the 35 cars in five tests and shared fastest in another while one of the remaining two was timed by a wrist watch and so the times were pretty meaningless. The shared FTD went to Charlie Irwin’s Cooper and the last one went to Ron Mullen.
Second man Grant only managed two second fastest time but he was consistent and unlike Mullen and Irwin, kept out of marker trouble. A very good placing was that of Peter Little, an Enniskillen man who has been improving in an unspectacular but steady manner over the past year, and his fifth overall in his Riley Elf, behind Charlie Irwin, was probably his best showing to date.
For a long time it looked as if Harold Hagan was going to take second place as his card contained some very good times and no sign of any faults. However a test marshal then discovered that he had had a failure and so Harold belatedly dropped to tenth place, His main rival, 1968 champion Roger Cree, also had a failure early on, and deciding that, he had no chance of winning a pot on this occasion, took his Sprite home.
Ian Woodside also had a failure in his Midget but kept trying and I fancy that Ian will show a few people a thing or two when we get more events on the public roads. Altogether, with people like Ken Irwin and Charles Crawford coming into the reckoning, the Spridget battle in the rest of the series looks like being a good one.
It was unusual to see Albert Lucas in a Mini — being normal1y a Vauxhall or VW man — but he seemed to get on quite Well with his new mount. On the other hand, Mike de St. Paer apparently took a dislike to his Mk1 Sprite in test four and threw it into a ditch. However a dozen or so willing onlookers soon rescued it un-scratched.
Finally it was good to see young Bell — the son of the famous Artie – taking an interest in four-wheeled sport and when a spot of gear trouble struck his Cooper, father was on hand to speedily rectify matters.
And just a word to Robert Woodside – Ulster needs your talent in the TV trophy so please try and make it to the future rounds.
- R. J. McCartney, BMC Cooper S, 297.8 marks;
- W. D. C. Grant, BMC Cooper S, 323.2;
- R. Mullen, BMC Cooper S, 324.0;
- C. Irwin, BMC Cooper, 325.0;
- Peter Little, Riley Elf, 335.6;
- N. Ferguson, BMC Mini 1000, 336.2;
- K. Irwin, A.H. Sprite, 336.6;
- J. D. Jones, BMC Mini, 339.2;
- L. Dallas, BMC Mini, 346.4;
- W. H. Hagan, MG Midget, 359.8;
- A. Lucas BMC Mini, 362.8;
- C. S. Crawford, MG Midget, 363.0.