1973 Coleraine Snowplough

Photo: Unknown
Gerry Campbell and Derek Smyth were leading the event until a relatively minor off damaged the steering and they were out.

Preview published in Belfast Telegraph 5 January 1973.

Late Entry Means Rally Shuffle

The late entry of Newry driver Sean Campbell with navigator Peter Scott in the Lindsay Cars sponsored Ford Escort RS1700 is likely to cause a change in the running order in tonight’s Coleraine club’s Snowplough Rally (writes Sammy Hamill).

Sean, who took second place in the big Texaco Rally and finished fifth in the RAC British Rally Championship, only entered the Coleraine event mid-week and was slotted in to the seeded list at No13. But, when the cars head off tonight at 10.01 from Brooke Garage, Coleraine, he will be at the head of the field carrying the number 001.

The change will allow the official entry list to remain virtually intact, with the Escort Twin Cam partnership of Leslie White and Drew Todd remaining in the Number One spot.

But the mystery over car number nine remains. The organisers received an entry from top Dublin navigator, Paul Phelan, which said he would be competing and that he would let them have the details of driver and car later. Nothing has been heard and it is unlikely that the mystery will be solved until the cars arrive for scrutineering at 8pm tonight.

The rally will cover some 200 miles round the North of the Province and will include some seven selective sections. Some of the best of these will be at Torr Head near Ballycastle, Movanagher outside Kilrea, and Tullyherrin Mountain, North West of Maghera.

The rally, which is the first round of the Northern Ireland Championship, and also the kick-off for the new Group One competition (showroom cars) for the John Pringle Trophy, is scheduled to fin ash at the Brown Trout Inn, Aghadowey, around 06.15 tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

Top 20 Entries (with Sean Campbell / Peter Scott at No. 001)

  1. Leslie White / Drew Todd (Banbridge) Escort TC;
  2. Trevor Fleming / Brian Dorman (Moira) Cooper S;
  3. David Agnew / Robert Harkness (Belfast) VW Beetle;
  4. Gerry Campbell / Derek Smyth (Antrim) Cooper S;
  5. Terry Harryman / Norman Henderson (Belfast) NSU;
  6. Paul Martin / Mickey Thompson (Killinchy) Escort TC;
  7. Hugh O’Brien / Flint McCullagh (Omagh) Escort TC);
  8. John McGauran / Dave Duffin (Belfast) Escort Mexico;
  9. Unknown / Paul Phelan (Dublin) Unknown;
  10. Derek Russell / Brian Russell (Ballymena) Cooper S;
  11. Sammy Kyle / Tommy Speers (Portglenone) Cooper S;
  12. Ken Bolton / Ronnie Hunter (Cookstown) Cooper S;
  13. Sean Campbell / Peter Scott (Newry) Escort RS (running 001)
  14. John Kerr / Drexel Gillespie (Belfast) Ford Capri;
  15. Harry Johnston / Unknown (Omagh) VW Beetle;
  16. Joe Pat O’Kane / John Eakin (Castledawson) Hunter;
  17. Dessie Nutt / John White (Limavady) Cooper S;
  18. Bruce Kelso / Adrian White (Belfast) Cooper;
  19. Leslie Arthur / Derek Irvine (Newtownabbey) Imp.

Report reproduced from WHEELS Magazine, report by Peter Scott.


For the first time, in 1973, Coleraine and District MC’s “Snowplough” rally was an N.I. Rally Championship round and deserving winners were local crew Irvine Tannahill and Victor Armstrong, who had a quick and steady run in their Cooper S. Second, four minutes behind the leaders, were top seeds Leslie White and Drew Todd in their Escort TC. Mid-Antrim MC crew Sammy Kyle/Tommy Speers had their best result to date, taking third overall in their Cooper S but the most talked-about performance was that of David Agnew and Robert Harkness who took their standard VW 1302S into fourth overall, taking the lead in the newly-started Group One Championship.

At the start, White/Todd led away followed by Trevor Fleming/Brian Dorman (Cooper S) and Sean Campbell/Peter Scott in the Lindsay Cars Escort RS1700. Gerry Campbell/Derek Smyth were at four in the Laing Cooper S, while Terry Harryman and Paul Phelan completed the top five in the former’s NSU TTS.

The Brook Garage in Coleraine was the start venue and many crews – especially the novices – were not happy with the one hour”s plotting time (a new RAC ruling). A short run-out led to the first tight section on the fast roads of sheet one. Poor Terry Harryman had only covered a mile before the electrics on the NSU packed up making Paul Phelan’s journey from Dublin seem rather pointless.

Campbell/Scott immediately piled on the pressure, passing the Fleming/Dorman Cooper just before the first time control. The Newry driver also took the fastest time on the fast, loose and bumpy first selective in 1m. 35s., followed by Hugh O’Brien/Flint McCullough on 1m. 43s., and the Russell brothers on 1m. 50s. The last-named stopped soon afterwards with a holed radiator, while Fleming and Dorman retired on the selective with a broken gearbox.

On the way to Torr Head, Campbell/Scott had severe navigational problems (he means he got lost Ed.) losing nine minutes and missing a route check, thus putting them out of the running. On Torr, the first two cars to arrive, White/Todd and Campbell/Smyth, were given an unlikely clean run while Tannahill/Armstrong dropped 1m. 59s. and Campbell/Scott 2m. 20s. As if to emphasise this, the two unpenalised crews both dropped a minute at the next control though the rest of the field had five minutes in hand.

The first petrol halt followed, and positions at that stage were: Campbell/Smyth 4m. 54s.;

  1. White/Todd 6m. 55s.;
  2. Tannahill/Armstrong 7m. 01s.;
  3. Kyle/Speers 8m. 37s.; and
  4. Nutt/White (Cooper S) 10m. 11s.

Paul Martin/Mickey Thompson dropped a lot of time on Torr with a loss of oil from their very quick new 1800 cc engine. The next selective was at Movanagher outside Kilrea and Gerry Campbell was in front here losing just one minute, with Tannahill next in line. Sean Campbell finished the section with a broken crankshaft and naturally retired.

Three more selectives followed on the run through North Derry after the selective on Slieve Gallion where Jimmy Ogg‘s Cooper was fastest. Nutt/White were fastest on the first of these, Kyle/Speers on the second, and Nutt again on the third. Campbell/Smyth dropped out of contention here when they went off the road in fog and damaged the steering.

In spite of this, however, the eventual winners (Tannahill/Armstrong) extended their lead on the road sections in between the selectives and when the results were announced at the Brown Trout, Aghadowey, the semi-expert crew were declared winners, much to their surprise. In all, an interesting and generally well-organised event.


  1. I. Tannahill/V. Armstrong (Cooper S) 41m. 35s.;
  2. L. White/D. Todd (Escort TC) 45m. 36s.;
  3. S. Kyle/T. Speers (Cooper S) 49m. 24s.:
  4. D. Agnew/R. Harkness (VW) 52m. 47s.;
  5. J. Adams/R. Sloan (Escort) 53m. 49s.16.;
  6. D. Nutt/J. White (Cooper S) 64m. 16s.

Surprise win

This report appeared in Autosport Magazine January 18, 1973.

Surprise winners of the Snowplough Rally, the first round of the 1973 Northern Ireland Rally Championship on January 5, were the semi-expert crew of Irvine Tannahill and Victor Armstrong who brought their Cooper S home to a convincing 4 minute win in a tough event. Only a third of the 65 crews managed to finish the 200 mile event which included seven selectives.

Tannahill and Armstrong became the first non-expert crew to win this event, run for the third year by the Coleraine and District Motor Club.

The restricted event, which started in Coleraine and finished in Aghadowey, attracted some 75 entries but only 65 crews started. It was soon discovered that it was going to be a fast event though some fog was experienced in the latter half of the night causing several crews to have problems!

At the halfway stage, Gerry Campbell/Derek Smyth (Cooper S) were leading but they dropped out in the second half with mechanical problems. Tannahill had been impressive with some fast times on the selectives and he completed the event with the loss of 41 m 35 s, a clear 4 m ahead of Leslie White/ Drew Todd (Escort TC), who were one of only four expert crews to finish.

Third overall came another Cooper S in the hands of Sammy Kyle/Tommy Speers, who dropped 49 m 34 s while fourth spot was clinched by David Agnew/Robert Harkness (VW), on 52 m 47 s. Completing the leader-board were two more semi-experts in the form of Jack Adams/Roy Sloan (Escort 1600), who dropped 53 m 49 s, with Dessie Nutt/John White (Cooper S) sixth on 64 m 16 s.

In the novice class, the winners were Dessie Boyd/Fergal McKelvey in their Cooper S on 319 m 31 s with Sidney Harkness/Alan Hill (Minor 1000) second on 336 m 53 s. The event was the first round of the John Pringle Group 1 NI Rally Championship and the winners were Agnew/Harkness who were the only Group 1 crew to complete the route.