1969 Scallon Cup Autosport

Harry Cathcart makes a one-wheel landing on one of the many jumps at Bessy Bell.

Curley wins Scallon Cup

This report by Esler Crawford is reproduced from Autosport Magazine 18th Sept. 1969.

BECAUSE of the present state of unrest in Northern Ireland, the Omagh MC, the organisers of the Scallon Cup Rally which was the third round of the Ulster Rally Championship, decided to drop the night navigation section of the event and run only the forestry special stages in day-light. This move was quite well received and last Saturday morning in bright sun-shine 73 cars assembled at Mountjoy near Omagh to tackle 13 stages totalling some 35 miles, with another 85 miles of connecting route containing nothing to frighten even the least experienced navigators.

The infamous Bessy Bell was the first stage and reigning champion Cahal Curley immediately set the pattern in his Escort TC by being fastest over the 4; miles in 8m 6s. Second was Will Farren (Cooper S) in 8:10, followed by Robin Eyre-Maunsell in the Imp intended to be used by Colin Malkin in this year’s Scottish Rally with 8:15. Ronnie McCartney, one of the favourites, was running very far back in the order after changing a head gasket at the start, and as a result was badly held up, taking 8:43.

“Bessy” is reckoned to be one of the roughest stages in Ulster and took its usual toll: Brian Wilson broke a drag arm on his Mini-Cooper but continued, but not so lucky were Trevor Noble and Brian Boyd, who were out with broken gearboxes on their Minis; Dennis McKeag broke the steering rack on his Escort TC, while Fred Bell (Triumph GT6) and Aubrey O’Hara (Cooper S) simply went off the road.

The 2-mile Leglands stage followed immediately, and once again it was Curley fastest followed by the Minis of Ronnie White, Harry Cathcart and McCartney.

Sawmills was another 2-miler in the Baronscourt group of forests, but this was cleaned by a large proportion of the entry. The rally ended here for Robin Lyons, who put his Mini against a tree, and Maunsell, whose gearbox gave up. At last Curley was beaten when Ronnie White got the better of him by 11 secs on the slippery Mullaghcroy stage.

There was then a longish drive to the fifth stage, the very fast and smooth 3-miler that is Lough Bradan. This too was cleaned by a number of people — a situation which was partially caused by the organisers not setting the stage target times at the maximum permitted average speed.

The last stage before lunch was another fast one, at Killeter, where Curley was just 7 secs outside the bogey time of 5:30, with McCartney no less than 22 secs slower. McCartney’s fortunes took another reverse here, for he was penalised the equivalent of nearly four stage minutes for being late at the control.

After lunch the programme consisted of repeating the earlier stages in the reverse order, with the addition of another and final stage at Gortin Glen. Things did not get off to a too auspicious start when a Cortina GT blocked the Killeter stage for nearly an hour, but after this the event resumed its smooth and enjoyable pattern.

Curley continued on his way, setting fastest time on all the stages except one. All of this was despite having clutch and front suspension trouble. On most of the stages White and McCartney were disputing second place, but McCartney’s road penalty had put him right out of the running, while the unfortunate White broke a brake pipe (his second of the rally) on the penultimate stage, and dropped back four places after spending 5 mins getting out from among the trees.

The results showed Curley the winner as expected, and he now leads the championship with two wins from three events. Second was Harry Cathcart in the ex-Dessie McCartney Cooper S after a very steady run. John McClean had better luck than usual and finished third and Terry Harryman showed that he can drive almost as well as he can navigate by taking fourth place with his NSU.


Overall Positions

  1. C. B. Curley (Ford Escort TC), 48.4 s;
  2. H. Cathcart (Mini Cooper S), 52.2 s;
  3. J. S. McClean (Mini Cooper S), 55.4 s;
  4. T. A. Harryman (NSU TT), 62.5 s;
  5. G. Baird (Hillman Imp), 63.3 s;
  6. R. McCartney (Mini Cooper S), 71.3 s.


  1. A. Irwin (Mini Cooper), 75.5 s.