Stephen Dawson in the B

PHOTOGRAPHS of the AutoSolo, taken by myself, are posted on our gallery. Just click on the ‘GALLERY’ tab above and find the last file (entitled “AutoSolo 2017”). Click on it.  Professional photographer, Leslie McMullan, attended our event and has taken a number of first class images which will be available shortly to purchase without the watermark.  

Final results are available to download here: Results AutoSOLO 4 November 17 (Amended)


 AutoSolo – Event Report – Robert Dickson wins by a whisker

To be honest, for anyone to hold an outdoor event of any kind in Northern Ireland in November is asking a lot of the weather. The default position would be damp and miserable… but not on November 4th. To say we had the luck with us would be an understatement because the day was a perfect, sparkling autumn delight and the setting at Delamont couldn’t have been more beautiful. There was one remarkable moment however when the wind piped up like an enormous leaf blower, knocking over all the pylons and leaving a tangle of tape in its wake. A real natural spectacle to remind us of our insignificance in the great scheme of things.

Speaking of which, we remembered  our friend Garth Maxwell whom we lost two weeks ago. We thank our competitors today for their generosity in raising £121 for the Air Ambulance, which the Centre will make up to £200. Garth would definitely have enjoyed today.

An AutoSolo has some unusual characteristics. It is forwards-only and cars should be taxed, MOT’d and driven to the event.  It has only turns of a certain radius that can be driven without using the handbrake, pylons are numbered and cones placed on their sides assist in pointing the correct direction. However, the most important difference in the character of the event is that all competitors must do a marshalling stint. This not only helps greatly in staffing the event but also makes everyone feel much more involved in it.

And so we got under way on time, with two tests being completed four times each. At the end, the tests were joined together but purely for fun and not part of the competition.

Unfortunately, very soon Simon Brien in his delectable K Series Midget suffered tramping problems that proved terminal for the day.

Test 1 was quite open, starting and finishing with the usual trip around the natural grass islands. Then came a nice run around two carousels that tightened in the middle, followed by a flowing sweep around a box and then through the middle of it to then have another go at the carousels.

Test 2 was tight at the start with the wiggle-woggle proving to be the cause of many a pylon fault. The next carousel was tight too before the test opened out into a nice flowing run to the finish. It was very satisfying to get it almost right on the final attempt.

Three generations of the Johnson family were out in style, namely Michael (MX5), Andy (Chevette), Angus (Frogeye) and Patrick (Starlet). The star of Test 1 had to be Andy Johnson, not necessarily because he was quickest, but rather for style points. The ex-Pentti Airikkala Chevette HSR powered its way around with a sight and sound nostalgic of those halcyon rallying days and Andy was keeping the revs up all the way to overcome its ‘caminess’. This resulted in a forced retirement as the tread on the rear tyres were disappearing fast and Andy had to drive it home in a legal condition.

Very fast throughout was his son, Angus Johnson, in the familiar (and recently re-engined) ‘shark-tooth’ Frogeye, throwing the car in with terrific speed and verve. Angus came an excellent 2nd overall and was winner of class 4 for MGs and Sprites with a limited slip differential. Second in this class and 3rd overall was Michael Reid with his usual neat, tidy and rapid performance.

Brian Glenn in the red Mini continues to shine and achieved an excellent 4th overall, picking up a class win on account of the event winner, Robert Dickson, forfeiting the class. Another seemingly faultless drive from Robert in the superb ‘Works’ replica Mini showing that he can still win in a forwards-only event without the other autotest manoeuvres in which he is a master. A very close run thing though as he was only a single second ahead of a hard-charging Angus Johnson at the finish. Congratulations Robert.

A couple of eye-openers for me were the excellent performances by Richard McCracken and Johnny McNamee. Richard was smooth and deceptively quick on Test 1 but the tightness of Test 2 resulted in some pylon faults that relegated a stellar drive to a still creditable 7th place overall. Johnny came an excellent 10th overall and winner of class 9 in the Micra in a very spirited drive in spite of his brave mum Sinead who accompanied him no doubt wincing and clawing at the dashboard.

Mum was again called upon to accompany her younger son, Redmond, who once again produced a very accomplished  drive to finish 2nd in class to his brother and well up the overall placings.

A good drive too by Tony McLaughlin who was first MX5 home and 6th overall and a good result also for Sammy ‘Junior’ Baird in the Hornet.

Other matters of note were the appearance of Kevin McNamee’s MX5 engined  (and ex- Robert McGimpsey) Midget. The power will take some getting used to but no doubt Kevin will get there soon. Speaking of Robert McGimpsey, his Beetle ‘Hermann the German’ held together in spite of a sound thrashing by Robert throughout the day. It was good to see it going so well after nearly breaking Robert’s heart with ongoing unreliability issues of late.

Malcolm McQueen and Bryan Mutch were going well until failed tests put an end to their day in respect of results.

Well done also Nathan Mann and Andrew Tucker. Nathan managed a massive improvement of 21 seconds on Test 1 between his first and last runs, pulling a violent handbrake turn into the box at the top of the test. I think the move must have well and truly have got the full attention of his father, Peter, who accompanied him in the car.

This was Andrew Tucker’s first event but you might well not have known it as he was soon setting very competitive times on Test 1. Test 2 again proved challenging and Andrew fell foul of the kerb on his final run. We look forward to seeing him out again in his MX5.

Good to see Roger Gordon out again after a short lapse of 2 years. Roger (seemingly like everyone else) has now acquired an MX5 and was showing it little mercy in typical style. Welcome back Roger.

 A great run too by Roger Dawson who managed to to beat his dad Stephen in the MGB and excuses from the latter were certainly hard to find.

Commiserations to Jimmy Dougan who ended the day with a bang, hitting a rear wheel on the finish line of Test 1. When I suggested that a new part would be expensive, Jimmy indicated that he has about 7 Micras in his yard for spare parts so that shouldn’t be a problem. Good to be ahead of the game.

Thank you so much Lucinda and Wallace McKee, Roger Fynn, Trevor Reid and John Clarke for timekeeping throughout the long and latterly cold day. As always, thanks Carol Willis for providing the much needed coffee and biscuits and for providing results in the face of a crisis caused by a failing power supply of her crucial laptop. Well done John Clarke in sorting it out – System Controls to the rescue!

And finally, a big thank you to all our competitors for queuing patiently and keeping the traffic flowing well throughout the day. We hope you enjoyed it – we certainly did.


1st Overall – Robert Dickson (Mini)

Class 2 – Roger Dawson (MGB)

Class 4 – Angus Johnson (AH ‘Frogeye’ Sprite)

Class 5 -Brian Glenn (Mini) (in lieu of overall winner forfeiting class)

Class 6 – Tony McLaughlin (MX5)

Class 7 – Bryan Mutch (Modified Midget)

Class 9 – Johnny McNamee (Micra)


Final results are available to download here: Results AutoSOLO 4 November 17 (Amended)