Blasts from the Past in Ulster

Whilst at the British Hillclimb Championship round at Craigantlet, near Belfast, in Northern Ireland last weekend, we spotted some fascinating kit amongst the local entry.

Craigantlet Hillclimb

The famous view from the crossroads at Craigantlet


There was a huge field of local Ulster competitors present and several familiar and very interesting bits of kit featured amongst the class runners. Let’s have a look at a small selection of the cars competing.

1/ George Stephenson – Jedi Suzuki

This is the Jedi which caused lots of controversy in its day!

Originally owned by Phil Cooke, this car ran an ex Moto GP 500cc 2-stroke engine for a few years, before being heavily modified. A GSXR1100 engine was installed, whilst in order to cope with the grunt, Cooke took the chassis to OMS boss Steve Owen to be modified! Honeycomb panels were sandwiched between the tubes of the spaceframe and held in place by carbon skins, producing a very stiff chassis indeed.

Phil Cooke Jedi 500

Phil Cooke leaves the Wiscombe start-line in the then 500cc Jedi (thanks to Steve Wilkinson)


Cooke scored masses of successes with the car at Midland and National level, before selling the car on when he graduated to the 2-litre class with the ex. Peter Harper Vision-Hart F3 car. After Cooke, former Leaders Champion Cornishman Mike Lee ran the car in the Westcountry with great success before selling the car on to George Stephenson in the late 1990s.

The car now features a different Suzuki engine, and no longer runs the distinctive, howling twin exhaust set-up used when the car was on the mainland, but it is still a very quick bit of kit.

George Stephenson Jedi Suzuki

Stephenson’s rocket at Craigantlet on Saturday!

2/ Andy Kittle – DJ ADS1 (Chassis 002)

It was great to see Andy Kittle (aka. The Belfast tourist board) back at the controls of a racecar again. Back in 2008 Kittle suffered a huge shunt on an Irish Hillclimb with his ex. Charles Wardle, 1988 BHC winning Pilbeam MP47. The shunt saw the car written off and Kittle suffering from a few injuries as well.

After a long road to recovery, the former Pilbeam-Hart MP58 and Pilbeam-Judd MP72 driver has been back in a car in recent weeks having hired a motorcycle-engined car to see if he was still up to the job.

Andy Kittle Pilbeam MP58

Andy Kittle’s ex. Jackie Harris MP58-Hart at Wiscombe in 1995


The bike-engined car in question was the DJ Racecars ADS1 which was the second chassis ever produced by Del Quigley and the team at the Derbyshire manufacturer.

Built as a sister car to the giant-killing ADS1 chassis 001 run by Mark Budget, chassis 002 was ordered new by Devon-based Lancia enthusiast Gerald Prior-Palmer so he could step up to a single-seater from his Lancia Delta Integrale.

The spaceframe car featured an 1100cc Suzuki GSXR engine and fibreglass bodywork rather than the carbon body on the Budget/works car.

Andy Kittle DJ ADS1

The DJ ADS1 Chassis 002 with Team Kittle at Craigantlet


Kittle seemed to be really getting into the swing of things on the hill, when unfortunately the car suffered a gearbox failure three-quarters of the way up the hill on his second practice run.

It was great to see you out playing again mate, here’s to more of the same next year!
3/ Jackie Harris – Ford Escort Hot Rod

One very familiar face at Craigantlet was local hero, and former British Sprint Champion Jackie Harris who was out driving his latest creation, a stunning hot rod spec Mark 2 Escort.

Jackie Harris Ford Escort

Jackie Harris heads for the Craigantlet start-line in his stunning Hot Rod Escort


Jackie is a highly talented driver who had one real shot at the big-time. After winning the Northern Ireland titles in 1990, he pooled all resources available, acquired a 2.8l Pilbeam-Hart MP58 (see above picture) from Rob Welch and took on both the BSC and the BHC in 1991.

A highly successful campaign resulted in Harris nailing a top 10 ‘number’ in the BHC and winning the BSC title outright, despite having never seen most of the venues until he arrived for the events. Mr Editor can remember joining in the celebrations at the season finale at the much-missed Weston-super-Mare Speed Trials.

Unfortunately the financial pressure of a season on the mainland meant that the MP58 had to go, being sold on to Andy Kittle, Sandra Tomlin and then it’s current custodians Bill Hutchins and Tony Luxton.

Harris did have one more shot at the big-time though, when Scottish Sprinter John Gray invited Harris to drive one of the most exciting speed event cars ever, the mighty Formula 1 V10 engined SPA-Judd. Runner-up spot in the Run Off at Craigantlet in 1992, behind Pilbeam-DFR MP58 mounted, future 5-time BHC winner David Grace was the result of this one-off drive.

The Escort that Harris used this year at the hill is an absolute beauty though! It is a 1700cc Ford Escort, which has been built to the limit of the Classic Hot Rod regulations and is a stunning beast. Almost too good to run on the ovals we would have thought….


  1. Andy kittle says:

    Hope your right mate
    Had a good weekend all the same
    Seeing all you big hitters across good stuff

  2. Eddie Walder says:

    “Del Quigley and the team” – Sturmanizer alert!

  3. Thankyou for all the kind comments,great times,and true memories of the BHC,@BSC

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