The stance is the same as are the personalities involved but forty-two years, and the make of the rally car, separate the accompanying photographs. And while Convoy men, Jackie Harris, and Agnew Toner, were the keenest of competitors in that first ever Donegal International Car Rally they were mere interested observers for last weekend’s event.
“I’ve lost count of the number of rallies I’ve taken part in, but I do remember that first Donegal rally, particularly I suppose because it was in our home county,” Jackie recalled this week.
The pair posed for the up to date photograph - this time in a Subaru - at the Auto Fast Fit premises run by the Harris family in Letterkenny. The old black and white image features Jackie and Agnew in the B.M.W. that took them around those initial stages back in 1972.
Jackie reflects with some regret that the stages of the modern day rallies are shorter than they were in his rallying era. “The stage miles used to be three times as long back then.
“I remember doing the Harvest Stages rally in Glenties and the stage was twenty or so miles long.”
Fifteen years ago approximately, Jackie and at least two of his sons, Paul and Stephen took part in the Donegal Rally. “I’m not sure but my other son, Gavin, might have been involved then as well as a navigator.” This year, Paul turned out to navigate for Gavin.
So has Jackie himself switched off the engine as regards participation in any future Donegal rallies?
“I was talking to P.J. Wilhare from Carrigart last Friday and we’ve promised ourselves with God’s help to do it again in eight years when they’re staging the 50th Donegal rally. I said to P.J. I was going to do it and he said ‘I’ll go along with you’ so we’re all set!.”