Irish libre racing 1965

Tommy Reid had ended the 1964 season on top form so Malcolm Templeton decided to upgrade his equipment, selling his Lotus 22 to Reg Armstrong and buying the best Ford twin cam car available, the new Brabham BT14. John Pringle had struggled to stay with the Lotus 22s during 1964 so for the new season he sold the 2.7-litre Climax engine from his 1963 Cooper lowline and fitted a 4-litre Traco-Oldsmobile engine acquired from Bruce McLaren. Tommy Reid was more than happy with the Irish Racing Cars Lotus 22 and he was joined in the twin-cam ranks by Luke Duffy who bought a 1963 Cooper Mk 3A ('T67') to replace his Formula Junior Cooper Mk II. Mick Mooney's Irish Racing Cars also ordered a new Crosslé 8F with 4.7-litre Shelby-Cobra Ford V8 engine for Reid which arrived right at the end of the season but its one race, a handicap at Bishops Court, showed it would be the car to beat in 1966.

The season was a fascinating duel between Templeton and Reid, exemplified by their battle in the Guards Trophy race at Kirkistown in July where the pair traded the lead and broke the lap record three times between them, Reid leaving it at 60.4s, an astonishing 2.4 seconds faster than before. Pringle's season ended in July when he broke the crankshaft in the Oldsmobile engine.

The Kirkistown points championship was split into three capacity classes for formula libre cars as well as for other categories so no overall champion was announced. Reid won the Ulster Trophy series at Bishopscourt by dint of two wins and a second place but although the Bishopscourt programme set the scene for the final round, Autosport reporter and famed local photographer Esler Crawford then made no mention of the outcome.

Racing in the South

Due to the lack of a permanent circuit, Kirkistown being the only one on the island, motor racing in the south followed a different pattern. The only major circuit races in the south were in July: the Leinster Trophy at Dunboyne on 17 July won by Chris Summers at the head of a fine International field, and the Phoenix Park races in Dublin a week later where Templeton won the libre race. Apart from these, racing in the south was limited mostly to hill climbs such as Enniskerry and Dungarven, both won by a visiting Tommy Reid. Reid's main competition came from Richie Heeley in a 1.1-litre Lotus 22, one of the two Lotus 22s Reid had campaigned in 1964, Reg Armstrong in the ex-Templeton Lotus 22-twin cam, and Kevin Murphy in the ex-Duffy 1.1-litre Cooper FJ Mk II. Armstrong took joint BTD at Rathdrum in mid-May, tied with the imposing 4.3-litre Crosslé 7S-Ford V8 sports car of John L'Amie.

The races

Five races were held at Kirkistown (3 Apr, 24 Apr, 29 May, 3 Jul and 21 Aug), three at Bishopscourt (8 May, 12 Jun and 18 Sep) and one each at Dunboyne (17 Jul) and Phoenix Park (24 Jul).

1965 Ulster Trophy (Formule Libre Championship) table

1Tommy Reid1.6-litre Lotus 22 - Ford twin cam28 pts2 wins
2Malcolm Templeton1.6-litre Brabham BT14 - Ford twin cam19 pts 
3John Pringle2.7-litre Cooper T53 - Traco-Oldsmobile