Frank Keane wins the Enniskerry Hillclimb
This report and photos by Richard St John Young was first published in Motorweek dated 18th April 1970.
The Southern Hill Climb season got under way last week at Enniskerry, where the IMRC held their now traditional event on the picturesque, but rather bumpy Co. Wicklow Hill.
They were rewarded with a pretty good entry for a hill climb, which had among the 49 names on the list, some pretty illustrious ones. “Topping the Bill” as it were was Frank Keane, long time master of hill climbing, driving Kevin Murphy’s Lotus 48, which is now sponsored by 7UP, while also in rapid machinery were David Furlong (Lola Leopard T100) and Bosco O’Brien and, Eddie Regan (Chevron BMWs). Richie Heeley was also entered in a Chevron, but failed to appear, as did one or two other people, including Brian Kelly, one of two Northern drivers on the programme, with his Lotus 51FF.
The hill, which has been in use for many years now, starts off, appropriately enough, at the derestriction signs in Enniskerry village, and climbs through medium right and left handers, to a fast, bumpy section between stone walls, featuring a couple of fast left sweeps. A fast right hander follows, and then a very tricky, but quite rapid right just before the finishing line. Much of the 1230 yd hill is under trees, and spectator access is limited, there being only two “real” corners where anything much goes on.
An interesting addition to the usual list of runners was a bunch of Vintage cars, some of which were the genuine article, and these, in the main, proved rather faster than the organisers had imagined, if the open handicap result was anything to go by.
There was no official practice this year, but each competitor had three official runs, and as it turned out, thanks to delays and so on, the meeting only just finished on time. In fact, since the fastest run of the day was actually made during the first runs, it’s questionable whether practice is really necessary at all.
There were three saloon classes, the smallest of which was for cars under 1000cc, and this developed into a stern battle between those racing rivals, John Keaney (Mini Cooper S), and David Hall (Imp), with some intervention from Alan Moore’s Imp as well. Keaney was always fractionally fastest, but David Hall was put off his stroke rather by having his second run, which looked very quick indeed, discounted due to a timing gear failure.
Generally, Hall was the fastest looking through the top bend, but Keaney seemed to have the edge. We look forward to their first meeting of 1970 at Mondello this Sunday! All three drivers were under 41 secs, and, in fact, this was the fastest of the saloon classes, even Vinney Moy’s potent twin-cam Anglia failing to get under their times.
The 1300 saloons were rather short of “top people”, and the fastest man in this class, Jay O’Malley, with his, as yet unsorted Cooper S, only managed 44.21 on his first, and only run. Second man G. Kehoe took a smart road going S up in 47.63, fractionally faster than Pat Regan’s very smoky “racer” which seemed to be on the verge of expiring on its final run.
With Robert Ward’s Escort TC not yet ready, Vinney Moy was left as the only really rapid over 1300 contender, but despite the lack of opposition (second man Frank Keane’s standard BMW 2002 was some four seconds adrift), he still tried very hard, and on his final run demolished the car against a very stout Co. Wicklow wall, without personal injury, fortunately although it will be a while before Vinney is seen on the circuits again. Robert Ward justified the trip from Donegal by taking third place in the class with his shopping Capri 2000GT.
All sorts of motor cars appeared in the sports and specials class ranging from Patrick John Wilhaire’s Firecrest through Midgets and things to the Chevrons of Messrs. Regan and O’Brien. The redoubtable Bosco elected to run his Chevron without front and rear bodywork sections, reasoning that, in the event of a crunch, it would be rather less expensive if the body wasn’t there to bang as well.
The two Chevrons were quite impressive on the hill, although neither could break the 40 second barrier, and Regan ended up fractionally faster than his rival. With Richie Heeley’s new car absent, it was left to Johnny du Moulin, giving the Lotus 47 its first outing, to take third place with a misfiring 42.41.
Arnie Poole provided most of the excitement in this class with his standard looking Midget, having a brush with the wall on his first run, but damaging nothing but a hubcap, while the Fitzgerald — Goulding twosome arrived with a brace of TVRs, a Vixen for Goulding, who sported a new Bell Star helmet, and a big beefy Tuscan for “Gentleman Jim”.
The single seater fraternity numbered three, but despite the lack of quantity, there was quality aplenty. With the very rapid machinery of Messrs. Keane and Furlong to keep the crowds amused. Frank Keane set the ball rolling with the Lotus 48, by breaking Brian Cullens hill record on his first run, with a climb in 36.81 secs; a time not approached by anyone else during the afternoon. On his later runs, Keane was troubled by a misﬁre when leaving the line, and this did little to improve matters. Furlong also went well with the Lola, and although he didn’t quite reach Brian Cullen’s last year’s time of 36.83, he was smooth and very safe looking at 38.40.
Adrian O’Connell, who took third place, was impressive with the old and terribly underpowered Cooper to record 43.9, but managed to hole the sump on his second run, which did little for either the Cooper or the surface of the hill from then on.
Among the vintage men, whose class was run on handicap, M.J. Good showed that he had everybody fooled, by taking his MG Fiat up in 33.30 (nett) to beat Dowling’s distinctly non-vintage Austin Seven, and Porter’s Riley quite handsomely. Good also cleared the general handicap with this run, beating Des Cullen’s mighty Honda in the process.
Altogether a successful event, pleasantly free of non starters, and with plenty of interesting machinery to look at. As usual with Enniskerry, there was plenty of unusual road going machinery taking part, notably Larry Mooney’s VW411LE (46.71 secs), and Lowrey’s Fiat 850 Coupe (51.25 secs), while Mercedes Benz return to motor sport in the shape of Barney Manley’s 220S, was delayed when he didn’t start.
Hill climbs look like having something of a revival in this country, and there are plenty scheduled for later in the year all round the country. Is Frank Keane going to be “the man” on the hills on 1970???
F.T.D. (Meath Cup) – F.A. Keane (1.6 Lotus 48FVA) 36.81 (Record).
Saloons up to 1000cc — 1st. J. Keaney (1.0 Cooper S) 40.2; 2nd. D. M. Hall (1.0 Imp) 40.75; 3rd, A. Moore (1.0 Imp) 40.89.
Saloons 1001-1300cc — 1st. J. Malley (1.3 Cooper S) 44.21; 2nd. G. Kehoe (1.3 Cooper S) 47.63; 3rd. P. F. Regan (1.3 Cooper S) 47.99.
Over 1300cc — 1st. I. Moy (1.8 Anglia) 40.98; 2nd. F. A. Keane (2.0 B.M.W. 2002) 44.95; 3rd. R. L. Ward (2.0 Capri St.) 46.52.
Sports Cars and Specials – 1st. E. Regan, (2.0 Chevron-BMW) 40.09; 2nd. J. B. O’Brien (2.0 Chevron B.M.W.) 40.88; 3rd. J. C. Du Moulin (1.6 Lotus 47) 42.05.
Single-Seater Racing Cars – 1st. F. A. Keane (1.6 Lotus 48 FVA) 36.81; 2. D. L. Furlong (1.6 Lola T100) 38.40; 3rd, A. W. O’Connell (1.5 Cooper) 43.69.
Overall Handicap – 1st. M. J. Good (1.1 M.G. Fiat) 33.30; 2nd. D. Cullen (0.6 Honda) 33.75; 3rd, A. J. Dowling; (0.8 Austin Special) 34.33.
Vintage Car Handicap – 1st. M. J. Good (1.1 M.G. Fiat) 33.3O; 2nd. A. J. Dowling (0.8 Austin Special) 34.33; 3rd. J. N. Porter (1.1 Riley) 38.65.