DD Motoring: Forty years of snapping rally cars

first_imgAs this year’s competitors make their way on to the starting ramp for the Donegal International Rally, I will be celebrating 40 years of trying to capture the magic that is the Donegal International Rally.I started out while still at St. Eunan’s College as a student to try and get photos of all the great rally cars on the special stages around Donegal.A view of James Cullen Ascona 400 in 1988 at the start of one of his best rallying seasons.. Photo Brian McDaidToday in the digital age it looks very easy to shoot all day for all of the three days and enjoy viewing the images on your computer that evening. It was a a bit different back in the day. Advertisement A roll of 36 exposure film took a week to develop and was very costly for a school-going student to pay for.I had a very understanding local chemist in the late Jim Mc Cormack who doubled as my darkroom man in them days and my supplier of camera gear. My first camera was a Zenith Camera which was pure crap, or maybe it was the young photographer who was at fault!In 1978 I modified my kit with a second hand camera, a Olympus OM1 with a fast 50mm lens and a telephoto 135mm f3.5. Advertisement Manual focusMy new gear worked well and there was no such thing as auto focus in them days so you had to figure out in advance where the car was going to end up before the rally car appeared on the stage.James Cullen , Donegal Motor Club’s most successfull rally pictured with his navigator the Late Ellen Morgan , David Lylellen and Miss Shell at the finishing ramp of the Donegal Rally.I think Jim Mc Cormack was a sorry man that year when I shot that much film for him to develop as I collected envelope after envelope of pictures of rally cars.Getting local competitors coverage in the papersGetting good pictures of rally cars that year was my start into photography for life, I had all the local papers demented leaving in loads of pictures of rally cars which were hard enough to get published at the time and editors ended up maybe using one or two rally pictures and then sending me out to cover soccer or GAA matches instead.Over the years I have covered the rally every June but always was ask to cover events on the run up to the Donegal Rally for local papers, and also got the odd picture into the national newspapers.Most treasured photoIn 1989 Alan Tyndall, (Plum) asked me to cover the Donegal Rally for the Irish Times to complement Des Bradley’s report for the following Monday’s paper. Always the true professional Alan Tyndall worked out a system I could cover the rally for the paper.Irish Times report of the Donegal Rally in 1989. Photo Brian McDaidOn the Friday of the rally he suggested that I get a good photo of all of the top 15 rally cars. Then it was into the darkroom in the old Donegal Democrat office on the Port Rd. in Letterkenny where I worked as the local photographer. I would then develop fifteen 10+8 black and white prints which we then packaged up and put on the CIE Express Bus to Dublin where the Irish Times staff met the Donegal Bus in Dublin to collect the pictures.Bad mobile phone coverage In them days the phone service on mobile phones was very poor in Donegal so it was arranged that I would phone the Irish Times from the Shandon Hotel on the Sunday evening as soon as we knew who was the winner of the rally and described the winning car to them.A single picture of a Toyota Celica of David Llewellin which was used in the Irish Times the next morning. That was in 1989 and it’s amazing now how much the way we take photos has changed and how quick we can publish them online right away.Local talentLocal competitors are the bread and butter of motorsport in Co Donegal over the years I enjoyed working with them. I remember on the run up to one of the Donegal’s myself and the late Eamon Harvey, who were both members of the Letterkenny Fire Brigade and were on standby at a long fire call at the Letterkenny Fire Station. Eamon ask me had I a camera in the car, and before I knew it we were heading down to Eamon’s Auto Factors who were his sponsor to get a photo of him presenting Eamon Harvey with a cheque for that year’s rally.National coverageOne of the big days on the run in to the Donegal Rally every year was the press day that the motor club did in both Belfast and Dublin.The famous Ford of Fishers on Fanad head stage in the hand of Kelvin Keys and Kevin Gallinagh. Photo Brian Mc DaidA trip to the Kings Hall in Belfast where the greats of the Donegal Rally like the late Bertie Fisher gave up his time to help and promote the Donegal Rally.The late Jim Kennedy at the finish of another successful Donegal Rally chatting with Bertie Fisher’s father Photo Brian McDaidThen on the same day that afternoon it was off to Dublin to Shell House who was their main sponsor at the time for another photo shoot for the national papers in Dublin.Favourite article on rallyingMaybe it’s because the late Sammy Fisher is no longer with us that the interview I done with him many years ago stands out as one to treasure, it was of course more about his little yellow mini than him.The quietly spoken Ramelton man told me about seeing the Mini sitting in the corner of the showroom of the old PMPA garages on the Port Rd. in Letterkenny.The little yellow mini of Sammy Fisher on the Muckish Stage of the Donegal International Rally in 1990’s The car was originally a green Cooper S when Sammy bought it in the PMPA garage on the Port Rd in Letterkenny ,many years before, Sammy developed the car from its factory specification. and painted the car yellow, Manys the competitor new to Donegal might not have been impressed to be seeded behind this little car, but as the event progressed, the would be gland the were behind it as Sammy and his Mini left the most of the field behind them. (Photo Brian McDaid)It was an original Mini Cooper S and did not start out life as yellow but British Racing Green and he knew the first day he seen that Cooper, that the car was going to be his.Sammy didn’t buy that car right away but eventually got the money together to buy it and rally it, and made it one of the great memories of the Donegal Rally.Donegal has produced a lot of great rally drivers over the years some like Vincent Bonnar, James Cullen, Declan Boyle, and Manus Kelly had the great honour of winning their home event, so many others have been there or there about; some of whom are no longer with us like John Connors, James McDaid and Derek Mc Mahon who gave us great memories of the Donegal rally.James Cullen pictured with Sponsor Tony Kelly and co-driver Cathal Mc Gettighan, Photo Brian McDaidOthers like Paul Harris, Joe Mc Hugh, Robert Ward, Damien Tourish and not forgetting the Milkman are only a few of the Donegal drivers that mixed it with the best of the rest in their days to make the Donegal rally one of the best event in Ireland.​Three times World Rally champion Sebastian Leob pictured with Toni Kelly and Joe Hunter at the Start of the Donegal International Rally on FridayPrincipal Sponsors of the Donegal International Rally Donegal Oil Company represented by the Mc Mahon Family including Alister, Author, Anne and Derek pictured at the service area in Letterkenny. Photo Brian Mc DaidPaddy Hopkirk and Plill Coulter who were special guest at the start of the rally on Friday. Photo Brian McDaidDD Motoring: Forty years of snapping rally cars was last modified: June 1st, 2017 by Brian McDaidShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:brian mc daiddonegal international rallymotoringlast_img