Gage scales new heights

Experienced Ballymoney speed hillclimbing competitor, Rudi Gage, won one of the sport’s most pestigious awards, the lead crystal Todd Memorial Trophy, at the Cultra Hillclimb Event 2011 on Saturday 4 June.

Multiple Northern Ireland Saloon Champion Gage equaled the old course record to finish third in his highly developed Maguire Mini. With his staggering second run time on the twisty technical course Gage finished over a second ahead of his nearest saloon car rival, at a venue that has seen hillclimbing action since 1905.

The overall hillclimb competition was won by Dungannon man Seamus Morris in his Pilbeam MP62, who broke the existing hill record three times on his way to victory over reigning Cultra and Northern Ireland Hillclimb Champion Graham Thompson, from Antrim.

Over 2000 visitors to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum were treated to a thrilling day of motoring action, organised by the Thoroughbred Sports Car Club(NI). 80 competitors tackled the speed hillclimb competition and a further 55 vehicles and 12 motorbikes either took part in demonstration runs or were on display. Competing cars ranged in age from 1930 to 2011 whilst the stunning display outside Cultra Manor spanned 102 years from a 1909 Mors to the latest models from Hurst Jaguar, straddling the timeline of classic Jaguar sports cars tracing the history of the E-Type and celebrating its’ 50th Anniversary.

Holywood racing car constructor John Crossle celebrated his 80th birthday by performing the Ceremonial Opening Drive in his first ever single-seat racing car (Mk3/No1 from 1959). The tribute display to him,outside the Manor, had the last ever single-seat racing car built by the Crossle company (72F of 1989). Alongside, were three of his beautiful sports car designs and his most successful model, the 32F single-seater of 1978. Three of Johns’ friends demonstrated his last creation, the 80T sporting trials car, by performing what amounted to acrobatics as they climbed the sheer sides of the Glen that runs between the Open Air Museum and the UFTM Administration blocks. Former MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams “wheelied” his way up the hill on a thundering Harley Davidson race bike, promoting the SPARKS Charity that aids research in to childrens illness and for which he is an ambassador.

Head of Operations at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Mark Irvine said: “The Cultra Hillclimb event has once again proved to be an exciting motorsport experience for car enthusiasts and families.

“This year’s event was made particularly special by the display of Jaguar’s situated at Cultra Manor, marking 50 years of the E-Type and the striking display of locally made Crossle vehicles.” TSCC President William Heaney said afterwards: “What a really fantastic day for everybody! It was only when the whole event finally came together, on site, this morning that I realised that there were just too many highlights to be able to pick one out, individually.

“On behalf of the club I’d like to congratulate the Museum staff and it’s contractors for providing us with such a fabulous venue in which to showcase the heritage and history of our sport.

“Thanks too must go to my club committee, our members and friends from other clubs who helped put it all together. Of course the event could not have run at all without all the voluntary officials who turn up on many days like this each year to make our sport happen. Finally, a thanks to North Down Borough Council Tourism for it’s advice, encouragement and support towards helping us develop this new event concept to the Province.”

AWARD WINNERS

Seamus Morris - FTD 31.52secs = Lyness Trophy

Rudi Gage(Maguire Mini) - 33.67secs = Club Members Handicap Todd Trophy -

Mark Russell(Jaguar E-Type S1 FHC) - 40.50secs = Hursts Commemorative Trophy

CATEGORY WINNERS

Ivan McCullough(Nissan GTR) - 35.89secs = Road-going Sports cars

David Mutch(Tiger Suzuki) - 33.98secs = Non Road-going Sports cars

Neil Dugan(Peugeot 205RWD) - 34.89secs = Road-going Saloons

Mark Steed(Stilletto) - 34.83secs = Non Road-going Saloons

Michael Taylor(MG TA Special) – 42.07secs = Vintage