Irish libre racing 1966

John Crosslé's ambitious company had an increasing role in Irish racing over the preceding two seasons, mainly due to the pace of the 5S sports cars, but started 1966 looking to dominate the Formule Libre category with a new monocoque single seater powered by a 4270cc Ford V8 engine. Owned by Mick Mooney's Irish Racing Cars and driven by Tommy Reid, it won the opening Kirkistown round very easily with its closest competition coming from two Ford twin cam cars: the evergreen Malcolm Templeton in his Brabham BT14 and Lingard Goulding in the ex-John Pollock Lotus 27. Reid then took the big Crosslé to Oulton Park for a libre race on 9 April but crashed heavily, ending the new car's career.

The second race Kirkistown had a small entry and was won by Goulding after Templeton stalled and was hit by Duffy. Bishops Court's opening race also had a poor single-seater entry and was won by Luke Duffy in his Cooper-twin cam, a converted ex-Formula Junior car, after Gerry Kinnane's 4.7-litre sports Crosslé 7S spun off through Neill's Cross. The next race was at Kirkistown on 21 May and with Reid still absent recovering from his crash, Templeton won in the Brabham but only narrowly from John Crosslé in the 9S-BMW that he had built for John L'Amie. The action then moved to Bishops Court four weeks later but here the entry was even worse, exacerbated by a shipping strike that left L'Amie's and Nelson's cars stranded in England after an outing to Oulton Park. Only two cars finished the libre race, Templeton winning from Jackie Davidson's 1098cc single-seater Crosslé 6F. Templeton won again at Kirkistown in July; after Duffy retired, the main entertainment came from the battle between two Crosslé-twin cam sports cars driven by John Pollock and future F1 star John Watson.

After a two-month summer break, racing in the north resumed at Bishops Court on 2 September and Tommy Reid was back with the new single-seater Crosslé 10F, replacing the 8F wrecked at Oulton in April and powered by a 4.7-litre Shelby-Cobra Ford V8. He dominated the event, slicing an incredible 3.4s off the lap record to leave it at 110.6s, and won the libre race easily from Templeton, who clinched the Ulster Trophy, Duffy and Watson. Reid did the same at Kirkistown two weeks later, taking his lap record down from 60.4s to 59.4s and lapping second-placed Templeton as he won the Guards Trophy libre race.

Racing in the South

In the early-season speed events of the south, the leading challenger to Duffy's Cooper-twin cam was Richard Heeley, who now had a 1.5-litre Ford engine in his Lotus 22, to which he fitted an Allard supercharger for speed events. Lingard Goulding's season in the ex-Pollock Lotus 27 was interupted by a heavy accident at Enniskerry at the end of April and he did not return. Also notable were Frank Keane in his rather antique Lotus 18-Alfa Romeo, Kevin Murphy with his ex-Duffy 1.5-litre Cooper-Ford and Brian Cullen in a 1098cc Lotus 20.

A strike of British seamen meant no British entries for the Leinster Trophy at Dunboyne so the scratch race was cancelled and just the handicap races went ahead. Templeton's Brabham was badly damaged in the feature race and Kenny McArdle crashed his Jaguar E-Type and suffered injuries from which he later died. The 100-mile libre race went ahead at Phoenix Park a week later, the feature race of the programme, and was won by Sid Taylor's Lola T70 Mk 2 Spyder from Duffy's Cooper.

After the speed events of May and June and the Internationals in July, the only remaining events in the south were the Tipperary Speed Weekend in early August, the Rathdrum races in early September and the Tim Healy Hill Climb a week later. With Brian Cullen's Lotus 20 having been wrecked at Phoenix Park, Richie Heeley was fastest nearly everywhere in the blown Lotus 22-Allard with Murphy and Keane taking the minor placings. Heeley, not surprisingly, was 1966 Eire Sexton Trophy Champion.

Ulster Automobile Club Ulster Trophy Formule Libre races

07 May 1966 > Ulster Trophy libre race at Bishopscourt

11 Jun 1966 > Ulster Trophy libre race at Bishopscourt

03 Sep 1966 > Ulster Trophy libre race at Bishopscourt

1966 Ulster Trophy (Formule Libre Championship) table

1Malcolm Templeton1.6-litre Brabham BT14 - Ford twin cam20 pts1 win
2Luke Duffy1.6-litre Cooper FJ Mk 3A 'T67' - Ford twin cam17 pts1 win
3John Watson1.6-litre CrosslĂ© 5S - Ford twin cam12 pts 
4Tommy Reid4.7-litre Crosslé 10F - Ford Shelby Cobra 289ci V810 pts1 win