Following the success of last year’s front-engined Grand Prix car races in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, the action moved forward an era last month, when Historic Grand Prix Car Association members delighted 100,000 spectators at the annual Rothmans Road Races festival with committed performances in rearengined cars of the 1950s and 1960s.
Rod Jolley was in superb form, winning on both days with his 1959 Cooper T51, Jack Brabham’s first 2 1/2 litre machine, but he was made to work very hard on the Sunday by Alan Baillie and Fred Boothby in exRodney Bloor and Jochen Rindt Brabham BT14 and BT16 chassis.
Once Steve Foster’s BT21 was sidelined with a broken gearbox, Jolley powered through, hounded by the slipstreaming twin-cam cars. Baillie outbraked Jolley to sniff the lead, but Climax grunt told on the tree-lined Oldtown Course. The Irish Motor Racing Club and Leinster MC’s event also embraced the final round of the Historic Sports Car Club’s RJB Mining Sportscar Championship, won by ex-Grand Prix driver Mike Wilds with his customary display in Richard Budge’s Chevron B31/36, which pulled 147mph on the longest straight.
The title, however, was decided in favour of David Hudson whose speed and consistency in his Sturgess (originally a Formula 100 car, but now powered by a 1600cc Ford pushrod engine) allowed him to outpoint Mike Campbell-Cole, who returned to the sport after a 25-year lay-off to race Ian Barrowman’s 2-litre Martin-BDG BM8.
Accidents marred practice for both events. Veterans David Beckett and Barrie Gillies wrecked the Nerus Silhouette and the ex-David Prophet Brabham BT6 respectively, fortunately without serious injury. Beckett, the 1961 East African Safari Rally winner, was already famous in Ireland for a fiery incident which cost him victory on the Dunboyne street circuit in a Lister-Jaguar 30 years ago.