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October, 2010:

Roy McCarthy 1942-2010

Having been privileged to be one of the hundreds saying goodbye to Roy at yesterday’s service, I thought that those who couldn’t make it would like to see the Eulogy.

‘Roy’ McCarthy, as we all know him, was born in Paddington W2. He said the only person to call him Royston was his mum when he was in trouble. Roy and his parents, John and Vera, together with his sisters, Brenda and Janice, spent their growing up years in Mayall Road, Brixton, moving there after the War when John, Roy’s dad, came safely home after serving in the Royal Marines on the Warspite and the Black Prince.

Roy soon found out that if you wanted something you had to work, so by the time he was nine he was doing milk rounds, followed by paper rounds before he went to School. He always had an interest in ‘wheels’ for at a very early age had made a wooden go cart from packing boxes on second-hand ball bearing wheels and rope to steer it.

Roy went to Tulse Hill Comprehensive Boys School where he was interested in woodwork, metalwork, technical drawing and anything mechanical. His first job was at Bouldings with his Uncle Peter and he soon purchased his first vehicle in 1960 owning his own BSA Gold Star which he loved. His first car purchase was a Mk 1 Zephyr in 1962, his second a red MGA, OJX 811 which is still in the ‘supershed’.

Roy started his Technical working life as a draughtsman at Masson Scott Engineering in Tooting where he met Pam. His interest in all things mechanical and how they worked led him into the motor trade. He started doing minor repairs to friends’ cars moving from the garage at Pam’s parents’ house to a friend’s double garage and then on to a Mechanical Workshop and finally to run his own very successful body repair shop. Roy and Pam married on 11th December 1970 and soon after, in March 1971, Roy started racing in the red MGA but within a year or so the first yellow racing MGA appeared on the scene — that car itself having been rescued from the proverbial barn.

Anyone who has spectated at an MG Car Club Race Meeting over the last 4 decades will be more than aware of the name of Roy McCarthy. He is synonymous with spectacular action in his various MGs over that period of time all of which were painted bright canary yellow.

He was instrumental in those early days in preparing the regulations for what was then the MGA Register Championship which over the years turned into the present Thoroughbred Sports Car Championship. He also played a large part in preparing the regulations for the BCV8 Championship and has over the decades played a central role in both the running of and competing in these two very successful MG Car Club series. Roy’s contribution to these series has assisted with their huge success.

Roy has always had a passion for mechanical things and making them work better (i.e. go faster!). In the early 1970s some of the engineering experiments on the racing MGA were extreme and somewhat brutal by today’s standards. There was not a wide availability as there is now of new parts and much of the tuning was carried out with already well worn second hand bits. As a result there was some spectacular engine blow ups! Roy’s speed on the race track was evident from the start. He won the MGA Register Championship outright 6 times.

By the mid 70s an extension to the family was planned and in February 1976 Russell arrived and February 1977 Spencer arrived, both before the Season started so not too disruptive for his racing schedule.

In the early 1980s Roy raced a BMW engined Chevron B8 in the Atlantic Computer Leasing Series for a couple of years. This was the start of the big money in the higher echelons of historic racing. Roy, self preparing his car as usual, whilst running a very busy workshop at the same time was always going to be at a disadvantage to the big bucks players but he never ever gave up and when the car worked properly he certainly caused the front runners a few frights!

Roy came back to the MGAs in the mid 1980s when it was obvious that the cost of competing at the top end was out of all proportion to somebody who was running their own small business at the same time. He has been with MGs ever since in MGA and four and eight cylinder MGB models.

He survived breaking his neck at Paddock Bend at Brands in March 1985 when he opted for the barrier rather than T-boning and possibly injuring another driver.

He bounced back from that in 1986 and started racing a road modified MGB with great success. Then he moved on to a standard MGB GTV8 continuing with that success. Roys next move was to swap that car for his present fully modified MGB GTV8 which originally was in “big wing”form. After a year or so he put the car back to the normal MGB silhouette with 6” wheels to enable him to race with the Thoroughbreds and also eventually with Heritage GT as well as the BCV8 Series.

There have been many McCarthy highlights over the years including him beating all the full race DB 4 Astons in his MGA, at Thruxton. Anyone who saw Roy beat the late great Gerry Marshall in Gerry’s full race DB4 at Thruxton after a race-long battle will have realised that they were watching a very special driver with extraordinary talent. Then there was a McCarthy 1-2-3 on the podium at Brands Hatch in MGBs with his two sons Russell and Spencer – dad in front naturally!

Roy first fell ill with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma some 13 years ago. He fought through several months of treatment, still racing, with hardly anyone realising he had a problem. In 2008 he had a few symptoms and had his spleen removed and was given the all clear.

By May 2009 he was again diagnosed with NHL and his treatment this time lasted through until September but he managed a couple of races, one at Thruxton and one at the last meeting of the year at Snetterton. Sadly again in the spring of this year his illness returned in a different form and despite more gruelling treatments he continued to race throughout but at the end of September was told that there was nothing else the medics could do for him. It is a measure of the man that he came home from being told that and straight away finished a couple of outstanding jobs. Roy has always been one of the most positive people it is possible to meet.

Over the years Roy managed to run a very successful crash repair business, carry on a huge amount of racing and be a full time family man and much more besides. In all this he has always had the benefit of the unstinting support of his wife Pam who has supported everything he has done and has of course been the organisational brains in the background. Pam always ensured that Roy and latterly Roy and their sons Russell and Spencer all arrived at the right race at the right time with tyres, fuel and everything else properly checked. Pam also made sure that they themselves were regularly fed and watered throughout the racing weekends, a fact which both Roy and the boys have always acknowledged.

Roy took huge pride in his two Sons and their achievements both on and off the track. It was one of his great joys to race with them and he knew that they had turned out to be such fine and successful competitors as well as loving Sons.

Over the last few years as Roy moved away from the crash repair business he has of course prepared engines and indeed cars for many competitors in the Car Club Racing Championships. His ability with preparing race engines is renowned as was his ability to test a car and immediately be able to tell what needed to be done to it to make it more effective. He could of course also drive a bad car very fast which he did on many occasions normally much to the surprise and despair of the car’s owner.

Roy’s death will leave a huge void for many of us. Some who have known him all his life and some who have formed long term friendships with him. Always ready to advise and help, never appearing to be overawed by the odds against him and always ready to give everything a good go.

He was a delightful man who will be much missed by all who knew him.

CHAMPIONSHIP FINALE ROUND 8

CONGRATULATIONS TO JOSH FILES who has become the 2010 Thoroughbred Sportscar Championship Overall Champion.

MOTORING CLASSICS THOROUGHBRED SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP

RACE REPORT- 2nd October 2010 MGCC SNETTERTON – Round 8

The final round of the Season for Thoroughbreds was at Snetterton near Thetford with the M.G.Car Club’s two day meeting, Sunday being their four hour relay race and Season finale.  The circuit is 1.9520 miles long and we were to have a fifteen minute practice and a twenty minute race.

The weather forecast was for a cloudy/sunny day and you were lucky.  Where I was watching from it was pouring with floods everywhere for most of the day and evening.

The Thoroughbreds had a fantastic grid of twenty eight on the day but problems in the Morgan Challenge race put both Chris Acklam who had a rearranged front end and kinked chassis and Roger Whiteside who had both practiced, out of the race noted as number seven on the programme of events, so 26 turned up to race.

Included in this total was a special ‘Stig’ who represented dad Roy McCarthy.  Roy had been able to sort out his head gasket problems after his last trip out on the 4th/5th September at Donington and had told us that the engine felt the best it had ever felt.   Roy would not be able to make the race and had asked Spencer to represent him at the last race of his 40th Season of racing.
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