On an evening which once threatened rain, the skies improved when it came the time for racing and Northern Ireland enjoyed its first proper classic hot rod racing in over four years in setting spring sunshine at Tullyroan Dungannon.

The Classic Hot Rods generated substantial interest in the pit area ahead of their track debut, with many in awe of the beautiful machines. Unfortunately Kenny Wilson didn’t make it past practice.
“It was ok in practice,” Kenny reports, “but after six laps it started missing and banging. When I looked at the engine in the pits I could see the number two spark plug was soaked in petrol.” On the bright side Kenny was delighted about the amount of attention the fans were giving to the Classic Hot Rods in the pits. “A number of fans told me they were here tonight especially because of the Classics.” Wilson declared. The 937 pilot was forced to watch the racing rather than compete in it but upon returning home wasted no time in examining the engine. By 1pm on Sunday Wilson had realised the damage – broken rings.

Tipperary’s 175 Andy O’Donnell raced to the first victory of the night in his Mk2 Escort ahead of Meath’s 100 Kevin Feeny and the superb Mk1 Escort of Portavogie’s 777 Jackie Harris. 156 Gerry Rothwell brought up the rear with a car that Gerry admitted was ‘pushing on’ dreadfully.

Heat One result: 175 Andy O’Donnell, 100, 777, 25, 156

25 Trevor Cusack held the rest at bay to take the win in heat two over Feeney and O’Donnell, with the magical Anglia 100E of Gerry Rothwell next up. Trevor was naturally delighted. It had taken him Four and a half hours flat out to cover the 250 mile north to Tullyroan from his Cork home. He also thought the reception he received from the Ulster crowd was superb.

Heat Two result : 25 Trevor Cusack, 100, 175, 156

Rothwell set the early pace in the final, before Cusack swept his black and white liveried Mk2 by to take up the running. O’Donnell recovered from his yellow grade handicap to get right on terms, circulating side by side with Cusack for the lead. “I was doing the best I can, “Cusack said afterward, “just lacking grip through the corners. I reckon fresh tyres will cure that, these are quite old!” The fans were really enjoying the sight of the two Mk2’s battling door handle to door handle, before O’Donnell edged ahead for a very popular win over Cusack and Feeney. “I’m delighted in how the car is handling.” smiled Andy, “this has been the perfect preparation for our visit to race in England in June.”

Final: 175 Andy O’Donnell, 25 Trevor Cusack, 100 Kevin Feeny, 156

In conclusion, in spite of only six cars present, the Classic Hot Rods in Ireland once again punched above their weight appeal with quality over quantity. Race director Darren Black was very pleased with the impression the Classic Hot Rods made in their Northern Irish. “Some good close racing but more importantly some massive interest created amongst the spectators.” Black summarised.
When the CHRs next race at Tipperary on 18th July and Tullyroan on 9th August, car attendances will be higher as other drivers complete their projects. Any more competitors seeking to race the Emmerald Isle in the coldest class in oval racing will be made very welcome.

Rob Hughes and Darren Black

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