28 July 2019 - Tom Murray Memorial Trophy


After an 8 week gap since the June Bank holiday meeting, Waterford Raceway was back in action at the end of July for the sixth round of the 2019 championship, featuring the Tom Murray Memorial Trophy race as the climax of the day, and sponsored by Boland Race Preparation – good to see Paul sharing his support between Autograss and Hot Rod racing. The mid-season break was a consequence of the effort to arrange a calendar that avoided clashes with other tracks (primarily Rosegreen, with its very crowded schedule), although as it’s turned out, this year’s strong attendances at the Pike haven’t been dependant on drivers supporting both venues.


On a glorious sunny morning, eventually there were 72 drivers signed on to race (plus a couple more to do on track demos during any down time), with 58 race cars in the pits. This implies a huge increase in the number of shared cars, which was all down to the new McNamara Motorsport sponsored “mini team championship”. This involved a junior and senior driver using standard Micras pairing up to score points over three meetings – the idea being to boost the adult Class 1B by encouraging double driving of the Juniors’ cars. It worked, with nine teams registered and the 1B field growing to 12 cars.


Despite a sunny start, a wet afternoon was forecast, but the clouds decided to pass over quietly and the warm sunshine was back before the finals, which luckily distracted attention from the rather long day. There was a big effort to hurry up the schedule for this meeting, with an early start to scrutiny, cutting out the usual practice laps for anyone except new drivers, and a planned 12.00 start to racing.  Of course, this intention didn’t actually get all the drivers through the gates any earlier, but the first race lined up at 12.30, half an hour later as usual. The timetable soon slipped, though, with red flags in the first two races before an incident packed first heat for the Rookies, who were all racing as one group for the first time this year. By the time signing on closed, the Rookies grid hadn’t passed the agreed cut-off point for split heats, but after a few late signings on they ended up with 13 cars on track. The ensuing chaos didn’t help with a complicated schedule, aimed at separating the Rookies and Class 1B races so that those sharing cars only had to do a couple of restrictor plate swaps. In the end it was past 7pm by the time the prizegiving was completed, but although a long day it was an extremely good one!


The ROOKIES’ action started when the unlucky Aoife Healy got tagged and ended up in the wall. Aoife disappeared in the ambulance and after a bit of a wait, which we assumed was for the medics to finish checking her over, she reappeared – back in her car and game for another go! With a couple of other red flags for startline problems, the race was completed at the fourth attempt with Liam Kiersey coming through to win from Toby McGuire, Martin Power, Conor Fitz, and Liam Og Power. In his second race day, Callum Power came home sixth, just in front of Callum O’Shea, newcomer Nathan Graham (a Limerick- based driver having his first Pike race after a couple of outings at Rosegreen), Molly O’Sullivan, Paddy Fitz, Daryl Deane and Aoife Healy. Out of luck was Davan Leahy, who started well but had his car go sick, leading to problems for the rest of the day.


The second round for the Rookies followed soon after the first, but after two stoppages, and with a couple of cars needing attention, they were sent off for a later rerun, which still had to be squeezed in before any of the cars could be converted to 1B spec. Again there were a couple of red flags and this time the result was called with a lap to go, when Conor Fitz had just taken the lead from Molly O’Sullivan, chased by Liam Kiersey, Martin Power, Aoife Healy and Toby McGuire.


The Rookies didn’t appear again until Class 1B had completed all their three races, but everyone made the grid except Davan Leahy and Daryl Deane. Paddy Fitz and then Toby McGuire led the way before Martin Power grabbed the lead on the last lap to win from Toby, Liam Kiersey, Paddy, Liam Power, Callum O’Shea, Callum Power, Molly O’Sullivan, Martin Fitz, Nathan Graham and Aoife Healy.


In the build-up to the day’s main race the Rookies had a bonus fourth race, and this saw more chaos as a nose-to-tail shunt involving Callum O’Shea, Conor Fitz and Liam Power brought the race to an end, with Paddy Fitz leading the way from Toby McGuire, Liam Kiersey, Molly O’Sullivan, Callum Power and Nathan Graham.


The PRODUCTION JUNIORS were also all-in for the first time this year, with ten cars on the grid, and they provided some of the day’s closest fought racing. After one restart, Cian Clancy seemingly got the better of a battle with Ted McGrath in the first race, but Ted was then closing up for a last lap challenge when the reds came out again, with James Deane in trouble, leaving Cian the winner from Ted. The immaculate new car of East Cork regular Darragh Walsh came in third from Aidan Heney, Ben Kenneally (back in his regular car after the previous week’s taste of Autograss), Ross Lyan, Joey Dilworth, Eoghan Burke (another with a new car) and Darragh Healy.


The second race was probably the best of the day, with Joey Dilworth fending off every move by Ben Kenneally throughout the race. In the closing stages Ted McGrath joined the battle and, as Joey defended from Ben coming out of the last corner, Ted saw a gap on the outside and just beat the pair of them to the line, Ted winning from Joey and Ben, while Aidan Heney headed the rest of the field.


The final, gridded in reverse order of the points so far, saw Darragh Healy, Ross Ryan and Ben Kenneally all heading the pack before Ted McGrath came through in the closing stages, to claim the win from Ben, Eoghan Burke, Aidan Heney, Darragh Walsh, Cian Clancy, Jason Ryan, Joey Dilworth and Darragh Healy.


The Productions also had a bonus fourth race and this one went to Ross Ryan, who pulled out a small gap as everyone else squabbled for second, with Ted McGrath coming through to take the place and Eoghan Burke holding off the rest of the pack.


In the class racing CLASS 1 brought out nine cars, including a new Micra for Paddy O’Sullivan, the return of the Deasy brothers and a switch of cars for Alex Prince, with the enthusiastic Ballinhassig-based team now expanded to three Micras. Darragh O’Shea led the first heat all the way, with Jack Hickey, Ronan Coughlan, Shane Hickey and Cian Deasy battling for second. Second time out Paddy O’Sullivan led briefly before Shane Hickey took the advantage, pulling out a gap as Jack Hickey, Paddy’ Sullivan and Ronan Coughlan’s Starlet fought out second. In the final, the Deasy brothers made  all the running, with Noel leading the first few laps before Cian passed on the outside and then held off Ronan Coughlan to the finish. Shane Hickey also joined the lead battle but came to a stop with three laps to go, promoting Darragh O’Shea to third from Paddy O’Sullivan, Jack Hickey and Noel Deasy, while the shared Class 1B cars of Alex Prince and John Cottrell didn’t get quite this far.


CLASS 2 started the day sharing the track with the stocks, but were then split out, mainly to space out the Junior and 1B races with all the shared cars. The usual three contenders fought out the class. Eddie Baldwin was chased home by Pat Ryan in the first heat, but in the second Pat narrowly held off Eddie all the way. Pat again headed the battle in the final, with Eddie having problems that held him back from a last lap challenge. Michael Coughlan’s shared Class 1 Starlet completed the trio in every race.


CLASS 3 ran together with Class 1, starting in front of the smaller cars in the first race but behind them in their other two outings. Jason Ryan took the first race with Michael Baldwin finding a way past Paul Fitzgerald’s Starlet to take second and Gavin Downey’s Starlet-Suzuki in third. Next time out they had fun battling through the Class 1 traffic with Michael heading the way until he hit problems on the last lap, with Jason then taking another win from Paul and Gavin. The final saw Michael, Jason and Paul all tied together for the whole race, just catching the Class 1 leaders at the end with Michael winning from Jason and Paul, and Gavin picking up more experience in fourth.


Spectacular action was again guaranteed by bringing CLASS 4, 5 and 6 together, with a ten car field increased to eleven as Colm O’Sullivan joined in with his circuit racing Legend car. Starting behind the other Class 4s after his recent form, Raymond D’Arcy shot past his class opposition and soon took the lead from Kevin Condon’s Opel-powered 206. Andy O’Brien in the Class 5 Starlet chased Raymond all the way, but Raymond’s Fiesta-Opel held on for an impressive overall win as Martin Fitz came through in the Class 6 Tigra to snatch second overall. Martin won his class from Donie Linehan and the FWD Rover-Honda of Brendan Dee. Andy O’Brien for once managed to get away from his Class 5 rival Padraig Smiddy, while Raymond was chased home in Class 4 by Peadar Wall, Kevin Condon and Mick Boland’s FWD Starlet, with Tom Hill’s 205 slightly handicapped by running a 1400 Honda engine after blowing up his 1600 version in the garage.


The second heat was fraught all the way, with two red flags interrupting the action. There was almost a third stoppage when Kevin Condon clipped the inside wall, but Kevin managed to get the car out of the way as first Mick Boland and then Peadar Wall led the way before Raymond came though at half distance. Raymond then built a big enough lead to just hold on in front after the Class 6 cars escaped the traffic and chased him down. This time Donie Linehan headed Class 6 from Martin Fitz and Brendan Dee, whose FWD car is getting close to the pace of the outlaw Hot Rods in his class. Brendan eventually got into a close battle with the other quick FWDs in Class 5, where this time Padraig Smiddy just won by getting Brendan between his Micra-Toyota and Andy O’Brien. Mick Boland held on to second in Class 4 from Tom Hill after a couple of moments dropped Peadar Wall back to finish just in front of Colm O’Sullivan’s Legend.


Tom Hill led the final away, but Mick Boland got past and then held on all the way to win in the almost historic ex-Martin McGrath 1400 Starlet. Raymond D’Arcy this time took until the closing stages to find a way past Peadar Wall; Raymond then closed in on Mick but was just too late to pass him, with Martin Fitz, Donie Linehan, Pedar Wall and Brendan Dee right there as the top six crossed the line together, chased by Kevin Condon. Racing in a Wexford shirt unfortunately brought Andy O’Brien no more luck than his home county as his car expired a lap from the end, while Tom Hill, Padraig Smiddy and Colm O’Sullivan had already pulled out.


Six LADIES lined up despite the absence of some of the regulars who were apparently off supporting Wexford in their big match! Orla O’Sullivan was again dominant in the first race, passing the early leaders Mary Prince and Anita Pollard in one go and then pulling away as Catherine Walsh, making a welcome return after having to miss a couple of meetings, taking a good second from Anita, Nathanya Houlihan’s 1B Micra, Gemma Linehan and Mary Prince. Second time out Orla was given a full lap handicap, but her car seemed off song and she didn’t make the expected progress as Catherine Walsh took a good win over Anita, Mary and Gemma, with Nathanya pulling out early on. For the final Orla was back on song, and Anita was missing, having failed to escape her lap scoring post. Catherine again impressed as she caught and past Mary, Nathanya and Gemma, but Orla was back on form and couldn’t be stopped as she won again from Catherine, Nathanya, Gemma and Mary.


The STOCKS grew to four cars with the return of the Alfa Romeo 156, in new colours and with anew driver, Jonathan McGovern. Stevie Slattery’s Almera led the first heat nearly all the way, as Brian Weston’s challenge for the lead in his Mazda failed thanks to a squashed fuel pipe. Brian soon had that fixed and went on to win the second, third and fourth races, while Stevie each time got the better of a close fight with Joe Dilworth’s improving Focus. Jonathan’s Alfa had a few teething problems and dropped out after two races, but it will be good to see this car back in regular action.


That just leaves CLASS 1B, with 11 cars starting the delayed first race as James Leahy couldn’t get Davon’s car running. Ben Hickey, driving Ryan’s regular Junior car, was also quickly sidelined with a sick engine. Jason Ryan took out Ross’ car and won the first heat, trailing his rear bumper, after a good battle with Stephen Healy and Alan Houlihan, while Willie Heney headed the rest. Their second heat was moved to after the lunch break and, from a mid-grid start, it again didn’t take long for Jason Ryan to hit the front, this time holding off Willie Heney, Alan Houlihan and Steven Healy. Within 20 minutes they were back on for their final; this time James Leahy joined the grid but unfortunately had to be pushed off again.  First to show at the front was Sandra Healy, taking to the track as Aoife had insisted that only her mother would come up to scratch as a team mate for the McNamara challenge! However, Sandra then got squeezed out into exactly the bit of wall Aoife hit earlier, bringing out the reds. On the restart new driver Adam Cottrell, the latest addition to the Ballinhassig team, with an ex-Autograss Micra, led the way in enthusiastic style before bouncing off the back straight wall – but still getting towed off the track with a big smile! From the third start, another of the Ballinhassig drivers, Darren Prince, led away and held a good lead when the race was finally stopped – but there was a mixed reaction from his supporters as the reason for the stoppage was his team mate, Athur Cottrill, parking his car on its roof at the top bend! With enough laps completed that left Darren the winner from Jason Ryan, Luke O’Donovan, Alan Houlihan, Willie Heney, Kieran Burke (sharing Eoghan’s car), and Stephen Healy.


For the big race, the TOM MURRAY MEMORIAL PERPETUAL TROPHY, there was an impressive list of 20 qualifiers for the 20 lap race, although with a few being in shared cars, eventually 14 lined up, reduced to 12 after Eddie Baldwin and Peadar Wall both had problems before the start.  As ever, the handicaps were a bit complicated, with a couple of Class 1B cars for Mary Prince and Nathanya Houlihan having half a lap start over the next cars, Raymond D’Arcy starting a full lap behind the field, and the Outlaw cars of Martin Fitz and Donie Linehan having two laps to make up on the field. Mary’s hard-worked Micra soon pulled off with a dead engine while Nathanya led a couple of laps before Jack Hickey, in the leading Class 1, took up the running. Darragh O’Shea pulled off with broken front suspension and Nathanya came to a halt with broken steering, fortunately managing to drag the car out of the way and save a red flag. As the laps wound down, Michael Baldwin’s Class 3 Micra (winner of the trophy last year in its Class 1 form) was making the quickest progress, taking the lead with four laps to go – only to immediately slow and pull off, with its steering column bracket having snapped off. All eyes were then on Martin Fitz and, in another perfect example of Pike handicapping, he caught the leader in the last corner, with Jack Hickey just crossing the line ahead, and Raymond D’Arcy taking the third trophy, ahead of Ronan Coughlan, Donie Linehan, Pat Ryan, Mick Boland and Gavin Downey.


A bonus between races was a few demo runs by Pat Power, in a Pinto-powered kit car, and Evan Russell in a very quick and sideways Autocross buggy. After the long break, there was now just two more weeks to wait for the next event, which will be a weekend double-header featuring two full rounds of the championship on 10/11 August, plus the Tony Dunphy and Maura Walsh cup races, in what could be the Pike’s biggest weekend of the year.



CLASS 1: 1st Ronan Coughlan, 2nd Darragh O’Shea, 3rd Jack Hickey

CLASS 2: 1st Pat Ryan, 2nd Eddie Baldwin, 3rd Michael Coughlan

CLASS 3: 1st Michael Baldwin, 2nd Jason Ryan, 3rd Paul Fitzgerald

CLASS 4: 1st Raymond D’Arcy, 2nd Mick Boland, 3rd Peadar Wall

CLASS 5: 1st Padraig Smiddy, 2nd Andy O’Brien

CLASS 6: 1st Martin Fitz, 2nd Donie Linehan, 3rd Brendan Dee

LADIES: 1st Catherine Walsh, 2nd Orla O’Sullivan, 3rd Anita Pollard

CLASS 1B: 1st Jason Ryan, 2nd Alan Houlihan, 3rd Willie Heney

JUNIOR PRODUCTION: 1st Ted McGrath, 2nd Ben Kenneally, 3rd Rodd Ryan

JUNIOR ROOKIES: 1st Martin Power, 2nd Liam Kiersey, 3rd Toby McGuire

STOCKS: 1st Stevie Slattery, 2nd Brian Weston, 3rd Joe Dilworth

TOM MURRAY TROPHY: 1st Jack Hickey, 2nd Martin Fitz, 3rd Raymond D’Arcy