1970 Donegal Stages

This report is reproduced from MotorWeek 30 July 1970. 

First Donegal Rally 1970

So far as enthusiasm for motor sport is concerned, you’ll go a very long way before you find a club with such enthusiasm as the recently formed Donegal Motor Club, and last Friday night, they ran their first ever competitive event, a rally, over a highly interesting course in the general area of Milford.

To lend a hand with the more difficult aspects of rally organisation, Austin Frazer, complete with beard(!) was on hand but there were no hitches, and the two dozen competitors found themselves on a three-stage, tulip-type route over some very good rally country. In short, the rally was a success!

The entry, though of modest proportions, also overflowed with enthusiasm, and the club even had a “works” Citroen, driven by a couple of Citroen employees who are in Donegal doing something we’re not supposed to know anything about!  The start was from Tom Logue’s guesthouse and, we’re glad to say, pub, in Cranford, and as the time drew near for the first car to depart, it seemed as though most of Donegal was there to watch, certainly most of Milford was there and the atmosphere was more in keeping with an International than a closed to club event!

On his way to third place overall, Patrick John Wilhaire, of Firecrest fame, gets his Cortina GT a little out of line.

The run to the start of the first stage, was only about half-a-mile and here the motoring really started, with the first car, Eamonn Harvey, driving his brother’s Cortina GT, thumping a hedge in the first couple of hundred yards of the stage.  They continued with a bashed rear door, and several other crews visited “Harvey’s Hedge” before the night was over.

Fastest on the stage, not surprisingly, was Mervyn Johnston, complete with novice navigator, one C. B. Curley, on the hot seat.  With the undeniable advantage of having the only fully rally prepared car in the event, Mervyn was a good deal quicker than anybody else, and was driving very well to boot.  Next up, going very quickly, was Ernie Stewart, with his familiar Hillman Hunter, ahead of the GT Cortina of Patrick John Wilhaire.

SS2 was a little bit farther afield and here Wilhaire was fastest, with Johnston second and Stewart tying for third fastest with the very rapid Harvey now back on form.  There was some excitement when a Derry-entered Mini, running at No. 2, managed to go off in a fairly big Way, while a certain red Lotus Cortina also went missing shortly afterwards.  The crew had had enough apparently and worried organisers eventually traced them to their beds!

First stage, first corner, and Eamonn Harvey heads for his first “moment”. The Cortina got up and finished second after collecting all the foliage on the outside of this corner.

The final special section was unsurfaced, but only just, for on the afternoon of the event, official people had gone along to see to arrowing and so forth only to find council workmen about to tarmac it!  A bit of chat eventually resulted in the surfacing work being held over until Monday!  Fastest here was Mervyn Johnston, with Ernie Stewart next up despite a very determined attempt to roll the Hunter.  The Boyce family got their Cortina GT into the top three with a very good time, and “Hairy Harvey” was third.

From there it was only a short run back to the finish where results, awards and enormous steaks were present in abundance.  In addition, a bar extension till two o’clock was in operation, and a good time was had by all.  After much computing, Mervyn Johnston, aided and abetted by Cahal Curley emerged the winner, with Eamonn Harvey a consistent second having gone very well on the road sections.  Patrick John Wilhaire also went well to finish third, while Mike Stafford’s Escort GT took fourth slot ahead of the McCafferty family’s 1600E, and Stewart’s Hunter, which lost a lot on the road.

In all a very well run event, with no quibbles, a fine route, and results quickly produced. We look forward to the next Donegal rally with anticipation, but first there’s the Hill Climb, and that really will be something!


1st M. Johnston / C. Curley, Mini Cooper S, 4.7marks

2nd E . Harvey/L. Harvey, Ford Cortina GT, 5.2;

3rd P. J. Wilhaire/J. Wilhaire, Ford Cortina GT, 7.6;

4th M. Stafford/J. Loughrey, Ford Escort GT, 13.6;

5th J. McCafferty/C. McCafferty, Ford 1600E;

6th E. Stewart/ C. Hunter, Hillman Hunter, 17.8;

7th J. Boyce/J. B. Boyce, Ford Cortina GT, 19.8;

8th J. O’Loughlin/T. Daly, Riley Elf, 21.7.