Future Champions 2022

The Ulster Automobile Club are delighted to announce our latest membership initiative which focuses specifically on supporting our young women club members progress in motorsport.

The Future Champions support programme shares another £2000, this time equally between four young women members to support their 2022/3 motorsport activities. This is one element of our Club development strategy to support young club members to compete, learn, gain experience and above all have fun! This latest development focuses on supporting women to participate in all forms of motorsport, building upon our previous award of £2000 to four young male members in 2020.

Kathy McDade, Amy Hawthorne, Emma Campbell, and Catherine Donnelly, each received a cheque for £500. They were all delighted with the boost to their budgets and greatly appreciate the support from the Club. The Club are delighted to support all our Future Champions, and look forward to following their exploits and progress with regular updates on facebook and the club website – www.ulsterautomobile.club.

Council believe these four young women; who have already gained great experience across a range of motorsport disciplines; possess the potential, qualities, skills and abilities needed to become future motorsport champions and we want to support and encourage their  development.

Future Champions 2022: Kathy McDade, Amy Hawthorne, Emma Campbell, and Catherine Donnelly, each received a cheque for £500

Future Champions 2022 Review

Catherine Donnelly
Catherine Donnelly – Reynard SF80

To paraphrase another great organisation, “Hi, my name is Catherine Donnelly and I’m a motorsport addict. I was literally born into motorsport. Due to my Dad’s motorsport business, around our kitchen table, any night of the week, was a who’s who of Irish Clubman Motorsport in the 1990s. I knew what a rolling road was long before I knew about hair rollers. Family holidays coincided with rallies and rallycross events. I spent my weekends ‘helping’ build engines.

Through most of my childhood, I dreamed about being a rally driver, but motion sickness on a fair ride in Bundoran put that notion out of my head for a while. I didn’t compete in my first motorsport event until I was 20. The Sunday before my first sprint at Nutts Corner, I sat in the Delta single seater for the first time and tried (unsuccessfully) to move it. I spent most of the afternoon, trying to drive on the tarmac at the front of the house. The clutch was so heavy it took most of my bodyweight to press it in and I stalled 90% of the time,

I had a makeshift booster-seat to help reach the pedals and I had never previously tried to change gear with my right hand. Roll forward a week, kitted out in a second hand race suit about 10 times too big for me, I managed to successfully if not slowly, manoeuvre my way round the track.

Thankfully, NUCC let me out on the track on my own as the last car in each run. As a complete newcomer to the sport, this was a great example of the lengths that clubs will go to to welcome novices into the sport. I competed in one more sprint in my first year, managing to have my first bump against some barriers, but I was hooked– the feeling of the air through the visor can’t be beaten.

The Corkscrew in Co Clare was my first hill climb– a completely different ballgame than a sprint. I managed to keep the car out of The Burren landscape and bring the car home in one piece and after that, I got stuck into the sprints, improving a little bit at a time. The seat time paid off and when I went back to Clare the following year, I had improved, bettering my 42nd place the previous year with a 14th place finish. My best finish to date being 6th overall.

Over the 10 years I have been competing, that has been the mind-set that I approach each event, improving. Whether it’s improving my times, getting a higher speed through the speed trap, or braking later. As much as beating someone is great, beating myself is my main aim.

My plans for the future, as ‘out there’ as they may be, involve winning. Starting with a class win, onto an event win, then following in Jenny Kennedy’s footsteps and becoming a female champion. And on my way to the top I want to encourage other women into motorsport. Showing them that we have what it takes to be part of it.

Amy Hawthorne
Amy Hawthorne – Renault Clio

After spending my whole life being in the paddock as a spectator and tagging along to every event, it was finally my turn. In 2021 I was finally able to start my motorsport career after a long 17-year countdown. After Covid very kindly postponed the start of the season in May we were finally able to have our first event at Kirkistown.

My family are all very involved in racing and its great having such a big support having people around like my granda’s, dad, mum, uncles and cousins at every race, is appreciated and the advice they give and each event is always fun with everyone around.

In 2021, I completed my first season in the S.W Adair tyres sprint championship in my Clio 172 and was part of the Heaslip Ladies challenge which I won 3 events and finished 4th overall in the challenge. This trophy allows all the girls in the championship to compete against each other by running a handicap system which means the cars we drive are not a factor in who wins, this challenge trophy adds a competitive element between all the girls and we all really enjoy competing against each other and finding out at the end of the day who has won. I also won the 2021 speed championship Newcomers Award which was presented at the ANICC awards dinner.

I am currently a full time Uni student which means money can often be tight so when I found out I had been selected as part of the Future Champions support programme I was pleasantly surprised and extremely grateful. This money will allow me to make upgrades to my car and will help me massively when it comes to running my car for the 2022 season.

I would like to thank UAC massively for selecting me to be part of this programme, words cannot express how much I appreciate it. I would also like to thank them and all marshals, officials, medical staff, and championship officials who run all our events without them it wouldn’t be possible. I would also like to personally thank my family because without them it wouldn’t be possible for me to do these events I am truly grateful.

Kathy Mc Dade
Kathy McDade – Honda Civic

Having attended the AGM of the UAC I was shocked and equally delighted to learn that I was one of the recipients of a cheque for £500 in connection with the Future Champions Support Programme, a new initiative that the UAC established a couple of years ago to encourage and support new competitors on their motorsport journey.

Having upgraded to a 1700 Ford Puma, I went on to win the TSCC Ladies prize at their Summer Event in 2019. An opportunity arose again to upgrade my car, and I subsequently acquired a 1.8 20v Seat Leon, through a friend. This also meant an upgrade from Class 1 to Class 2, which meant I was competing against more, faster and bigger cars.

Unfortunately, the Leon is currently feeling a little under the weather, after blowing the engine at the last event of the 2021 sprint season. I spent the 2022 Sprint season back in Class 1 in a Honda Civic and did well in being placed and building up my championship points for the season. My aim, with a lot of help from my Dad is to get my Leon up and running again for the 2023 season and continue competing as part of the Northern Ireland Sprint Championship.

Although, I have always been around motorsport, with my Dad being involved in the sport from a very young age, I only really started competing in 2015 after attending a Trackskills event at Kirkistown as a spectator, the year previous. I initially did a sprint in my dad’s 400BHP Subaru, which got me ‘hooked’ on the sport. The first competition car that I could call my own was a Ford KA, which had been acquired from a local scrapyard of all places!

Having upgraded to a 1700 Ford Puma, I went on to win the TSCC Ladies prize at their Summer Event in 2019. An opportunity arose again to upgrade my car, and I subsequently acquired a 1.8 20v Seat Leon, through a friend. This also meant an upgrade from Class 1 to Class 2, which meant I was competing against more, faster and bigger cars.

Unfortunately, the Leon is currently feeling a little under the weather, after blowing the engine at the last event of the 2021 sprint season. I spent the 2022 Sprint season back in Class 1 in a Honda Civic and did well in being placed and building up my championship points for the season. My aim, with a lot of help from my Dad is to get my Leon up and running again for the 2023 season and continue competing as part of the Northern Ireland Sprint Championship.

Emma Campbell
Emma Campbell

I was shocked and surprised to learn that I was selected as one of four ladies for the UAC Future champions Programme. A big thank you must go to the Ulster Automobile Club for running such an important programme and selecting me as one of their candidates and providing much needed financial support. The financial support will be used wisely, as many involved in Motorsport will attest, old cars require maintenance and money, so ‘Patsy the Peugeot’ will receive some new parts in readiness for the 2023 Motorsport Season.

Many have asked how I got involved in Motorsport? and, to be honest it wasn’t a planned route, more by accident than design. We are not the typical family that have been involved in Motors or Engineering, my Dad and I had a common interest in Watching Formula 1 and the brilliant BTCC (Turkington Fan!!). Dad would bring me along to some Motoring events and shows although one event that stands out was watching David Coulthard with the Red Bull Racing Team racing up and down the road in Front of the Belfast City Hall. As a Birthday present Dad had booked a Drive in a Single Seater Sports Libre Car at Kirkistown.

These events were run by the sadly missed and brilliant Race School Ireland but this gave me the adrenalin rush and buzz for Motorsport. It was after this experience that we looked into the various Motorsport disciplines to investigate options and costs. There are many options out there for all ages and genders you just need to pop along to any Motorsport event and ask. You will find that many of the Competitors will be only too glad to help and point you in the right direction, don’t be afraid to ask.

After some searching and spectating, for me, it was the ANICC Sprint/Hill climb discipline that suited my budget and requirements. I am now competing in my fourth season but had little expectations, just hoping to learn and improve my times.

To my surprise I won First in Class two years running 2020 & 2021 – 2022?? Who knows? In 2020 the Ladies Heaslip Challenge Trophy was introduced to the Sprint Championship, a big thank you must also go to Jimmy Heaslip for Sponsoring this Trophy. This has added another dimension to the Sprint Championship for us Ladies and is heavily contested.

I have been fortunate to be Runner up in 2020 and Winner of this most coveted Trophy in 2021. These have been big achievements for me as I have never won anything in Competition before. None of the Motorsport events can happen without the ongoing support of so many people, from the various Clubs, Secretaries, Officials, Scrutineers, Marshals, Time Keepers, Medical Support, Event coordinators and Photographers, etc., for which all we competitors are very thankful, so if you want to learn more about Motorsport you could perhaps lend a hand at some events before deciding which type of Motorsport will suit you. At the end of the day it’s all about having a great days crack with everyone and is a day for Dad and I to share our love for Motorsport.

It’s Not The Boxing Day Rally on 27th December 2022

It’s Not The Boxing Day Rally on 27th December 2022
It’s Not The Boxing Day Rally Cancellation

It is with sincere regret that the UAC have made the difficult decision to cancel INTBDR 22 on 27th December due to the lack of entries.   

On behalf of the Club can I take this opportunity to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and A Happy and Prosperous New Year.   

Bill Swann | Club Chairman & Entries Secretary 

The Ulster Automobile Club will organise a Clubman’s Permit Production Car Autotest on Tuesday 27th December 2022 at Kirkistown Racing Circuit, 130 Rubane Road, Kircubbin, BT22 1AU.

INTBDR Regulations 2022