Larne Motor Club rallies for its 60th anniversary celebration

Members of Larne Motor Club pictured in the 1970s.  INLT 35-678-CON
Members of Larne Motor Club pictured in the 1970s. INLT 35-678-CON
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Members Larne Motor Club are celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, as the club reaches 60 years in motorsport.

Back in 1954, a group of enthusiasts in the Larne area decided to form a Motor Club and explore the idea of staging motorsport events in the Larne area.

The first event, the 
wStarlight Rally, was held one year later, and consisted of timed regularity sections and cross road autotests held throughout the night. The Suez Crisis meant that there were no further events held until 1957.

A new rally format emerged in 1960s and the Starlight Rally evolved into the Texaco Rally. Billy Coleman was the last to win the event in 1974. Texaco Rally became the Ulster Rally, which is now a round of the British Rally Championship.

In 1974, Larne Motor Club staged its first national event in Boyd’s Quarry and it was Britain’s first ever European rallycross champion, John Taylor who took the honours. With the help of Adrian and Derek Boyd, the Boyd’s Autodrome was created and became the home of Northern Ireland’s rallycross.

The club moved Rallycross to Nutts Corner Motorsport Centre in 1987, where it has since staged many successful events from a European Challenge to a round of the British Rallycross Championship.

The club also revived Cairncastle Hillclimb in the 1970s; the longest hill climb in the UK at 1.6 miles, which attracts competitors from all over Ireland and the UK.

Over the years the club have organised autotests, sprints, and hill climbs. These events are variously rounds of the NI Championships. The latest addition is the Laharna Lanes Rally, which gives the club an opportunity to enjoy competition at as low a cost as possible, by completing special tests through local farm lanes.

Many famous names have competed in the clubs events such as Paddy Hopkirk, Russ Swift, Martin Donnelly, Martin Schanke, Will Gollop, Barry McGuigan the boxing world champion, Denis Biggerstaff, Kenny McKinstry, and WRC star, the late Colin McRae who began his career in autotesting at a Larne event.

A round of the NI Autotest Championship and the Laharna Lanes Rally are the remaining events in 2014, before the club’s dinner dance and prizegiving gala, which will be held in Ballygally Castle Hotel on Saturday, November 8. Anyone wishing to join in the celebrations should contact the club secretary.

A spokesman for the club said: “The club epitomises what motorsport is all about, promotes motorsport at all levels, encourages young competitors and officials, promotes safety, actively involves sponsors and last but not least we enjoy doing this.

“Are you interested in Formula 1 or rallying? Why not join Larne Motor Club and get involved? Meetings are held in the Curran Court Hotel on the last Tuesday of every month. Visit www.larnemotorclub.co.uk”