Ronnie Adams: A Top Rally Driver From The 1950s

As I noted in my post of September 16, 2012, I have been fortunate enough to receive a copy of the book “From Craigantlet to Monte Carlo” which is a book about the rallying career of Ronnie Adams.  Ronnie Adams’ rally career was highlighted by winning the Monte Carlo Rally in 1956 in a Jaguar.  In addition, I got further information about Ronnie Adams from his son, Kenneth Adams, who lives in Connecticut.

Ronnie Adams in a Jaguar Mk. VII Winning the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally

What is clear from the book is that Ronnie Adams was a winner – right from the start.  His first event was the Craigantlet Hill Climb in 1936 which he won in his MG when he was 20 years old.  As with many drivers of his era, World War II which began in Europe in 1939, sadly stole about 10 years from his motor sport career.

The other aspect of Ronnie Adams’ racing career is that he was an amateur.   He was a family man with four kids and managed the family textile business in Belfast.  Kenneth Adams noted that Ronnie Adams had limited time to take part in racing and rallying events plus no time for any serious practice. The only practice that Kenneth recalled was when his Dad drove the kids to school, on family trips and on vacations.  Apparently some of these trips were taken quite briskly.  It should be noted that Ronnie Adams rallied mostly in saloon, family-type cars, as he quite often rallied in his only family car.  As a result, these were the cars that he was most familiar with.

Frank Bigger, Derek Johnson, and Ronnie Adams – The Winning Team From The 1956 Monte Carlo Rally

Despite these limitations on time and rally cars, Ronnie Adams rose to prominence in the British rally scene.  This resulted in international opportunities for Ronnie Adams in what I would consider the top three rallies of that era – the Monte Carlo Rally, the Alpine Rally, and the Safari rally.  For a variety of reasons, Ronnie Adams raced and rallied for a number of different manufacturers – Jaguar, Rootes, Ford, Rover, Mercedes-Benz and others.  What is also clear is that when he was part of a team of cars, Ronnie Adams was usually the fastest.

Ronnie Adams, second from left, with a Mercedes-Benz at the 1958 East African Safari Rally

The book about Ronnie Adams, “From Craigantlet to Monte Carlo”, is not a big book, but it was a very interesting read about a great era in rallying.  If anyone wants to purchase a copy of this book, please let me know.  I can put you in touch with Kenneth Adams, who still has a few copies of the book.

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14 Responses to Ronnie Adams: A Top Rally Driver From The 1950s

  1. Adam Twinley says:

    I would love to find some posters or pictures of the Monte Carlo Jag MKVII if anyone has any or knows where I could find some? Thanks.

  2. Mikkel Franck says:

    My uncle Wycliff Holmes won the Circuit of Ireland Trial in 1936 as one of two co-drivers with Ronnie Adams. I am looking for a photograph of the event. My uncle is still alive. Maybe you could put me in touch with Kenneth Adams?

    • Hi Mikkel,
      I have sent you a private email that will connect you with Kenneth Adams. I also forwarded to you a copy of the report of the 1936 Circuit of Ireland that was included in the Ronnie Adams book. Unfortunately there are no photos from the 1936 Circuit of Ireland in the Ronnie Adams book.

      Steve McKelvie

  3. Caroline says:

    This was my Grandfather and I am so proud of him and I miss him loads
    Caroline Adams

    • Hi Caroline,
      You should be proud of him. He was an accomplished rally (and race car) driver.
      Steve McKelvie

    • Tom Porteous says:

      I am the present owner of the Daimler SP250 (Dart) which he raced in the Isle of Man and had his accident. Any information whilst he owned and raced this car 403 DUB would be welcome Regards Tom

      • Kenneth Adams says:

        Perhaps I can help.
        Email me
        Ken Adams (Ronnie’s son)

      • Tom Porteous says:

        I am looking for any information regarding DUB 403 Daimler sp250 that was owned and raced by Ronnie.
        I have the report by the garage that repaired the car after his accident in the Isle of Man and I am trying to find out how and when he acquired the car. Naturally I can supply photographs of the car and information since I bought it several year ago. It is still running well
        Regards Tom

  4. Fotis Fotiadis says:

    I would like a copy of that book.
    Does it have any pictures of mercedes pontos?
    Thanks, Fotis

    • Hi Fotis,
      I have forwarded your request about the book to Kenneth Adams. Yes, it does have a couple of photographs of the Mercedes-Benz ponton that Ronnie drove in the 1958 East African Safari Rally.
      Steve McKelvie

  5. Pingback: Ronnie Adams – Extramural Activity

  6. Kenneth Adams says:

    Hello Steve,
    Just reread your article. Nice job.
    I relocated to Southport, NC Dec 2016.
    I am in the process of organizing my fathers motoring memorabilia.
    Kurt Keiffer put me in touch with you
    a few years ago. Kurt is currently restoring a Jaguar XK150.
    Kind regards,
    Ken Adams

  7. Ross Baird says:

    Hi – I know I am somewhat late, but I would like a copy of the book if it is still available. I would be most grateful if you can help.
    Kind regards

    Ross Baird

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