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The Club office has just been informed that one of the BRDC’s longest-serving Life Members Ernie McMillen passed away on 21 February at the age of 88.

An insurance broker from Northern Ireland, Ernie first competed on two wheels in motor cycle trials and scrambles before moving on to motor sport on four wheels in a MG TC which he acquired with the proceeds of sale of a house which had been bequeathed to him. As was customary at the time, enthusiasts were able to use the same car for rallies, driving (auto) tests, sprints, hillclimbs and circuit races in just about all of which the MG TC saw service. Ernie also created his own Ford special, the Nufor, with which he won first time out at Phoenix Park. This car achieved notable results at the International Ulster Trophy races at Dundrod – in 1952 Ernie finished fourth in the scratch race for cars under 1300cc and in both 1953 and 1955 he was third in the Champion Trophy Handicap.

Ernie raced at Dundrod in the 1954 and 1955 RAC Tourist Trophies, then a round of the world Sports Car Championship. In the earlier year, sharing a Porsche 550 Spyder with the late Raymond Flower, they finished 17th overall and third in the 1500cc class. In 1955, again with Raymond Flower but this time in an Austin-Healey 100S, they finished three places better overall in 14th place but only 10th in the 3-litre class where they were up against the works Mercedes-Benz 300SLRs, Aston Martin DB3Ss and various Ferraris.  It was in 1955 that Ernie was elected as a Full Member of the BRDC.

As much, if not more, a rally driver than a racer, in 1955 he shared a Jaguar Mk VII in the Monte Carlo Rally with Ronnie Adams. They finished eighth overall.  The following year Ronnie Adams won the Monte but this time Ernie was not in the Jaguar with him. They were together again for the 1959 event in a Sunbeam Rapier Series II with which they finished fifth overall. In total Ernie reckoned that he had competed in over 100 international rallies including 26 Circuits of Ireland, 12 Monte Carlo Rallies and five Coupes des Alpes.

While retaining his passion for motor sport, Ernie increasingly found himself drawn into horse riding through his children’s enthusiasm. He started horse riding in his mid ‘30s, going on to become Chairman of the Pony Club of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1985 to 1991 and subsequently Vice President for Life.  He was also President of the Euro Pony Club. In 2004 he was awarded the MBE for services to horse riding. He retained his involvement in rallying and in his later years was a regular competitor and class winner in the major Irish rallies with a Group N Suzuki Swift GTi.

Apart from his main business as an insurance broker Ernie was also an hotelier, a farmer and the owner of a carpet factory. His wife Alma predeceased him but he is survived by his three children, Conor, Rose and Patrick to whom the BRDC offers its sincere condolences.

The Club regrets to report on the death of Neville Hay, who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1993
The Club regrets to report on the death of Alan Minshaw, who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1984
The Club regrets to report on the death of Ray Thackwell who was elected as a BRDC Member in 1957
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