Reigning NI Saloon Champion Rudi Gage, bettered his existing Saloon Car Record at the, now annual, Thoroughbred Sports Car Club Cultra Hillclimb Event in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum on the Saturday of the Diamond Jubilee Weekend.
The Ballymoney man absolutely threw his space-framed Maguire Mini, often on three wheels, at the twisty and technical Cultra course and was rewarded with another Outright Saloon Record in a time of 33.28secs and third place overall in the speed hillclimb competition.
Dungannon hydraulics engineer Seamus Morris, driving his Pilbeam, was overall winner, his 31.63sec run in the middle of the afternoon enough to keep him ahead of reigning NI Hillclimb Champion Graham Thompson’s GTR Turbo.
The Antrim man never bettered his 32.48sec first attempt as Morris pulled away by a few tenths each time and third place man Gage closed in on the runner-up spot by a similar amount on each run.
Around 1800 visitors to the Museum were royally entertained by 80 competitors in the 107-year-old speed hillclimb competition on the Museum access roads. They were joined by 70 vehicles on display around Cultra Manor for the twin-themed 4WD and MGB Golden Anniversary event.
Celebrating the work and legacy of Harry Ferguson and Rex McCandless, the event featured a display of ten rare or unique vehicles employing 4WD transmission systems from and inspired by the two Ulster engineering geniuses. Amongst them was the only 4WD car ever to win a Formula 1 race, the Ferguson P99 was driven to victory by Stirling Moss in the 1961 Oulton Park Gold Cup.
The Museum rolled out its two most recently restored exhibits, the last remaining McCandless 4WD racer and his Mule military prototype as the whole event was set against the backdrop of the Museum’s Ferguson Aeroplane replica parked on the Manor lawn.
The packed schedule for the day had a demonstration of autotesting by some of the World’s leading exponents of this, entry-level, precision driving sport at which Northern Ireland drivers have excelled for fifty years, led initially by Paddy Hopkirk in the 1960’s.
The hugely popular Sporting Trials cars, wandering effortlessly amongst the trees up and down the side of the Glen that separates the Outdoor Museum from the admin and workshops area, completed the live action.