History was made in the summer of 1983, when Dungloe’s Vincent Bonner and co-driver Séamus McGettigan became the first all-Donegal crew to win the Donegal International Rally.
Vincent went on to take both the Motorsports and overall prizes at the 1983 Donegal Sports Star Awards. One of his biggest regrets was not attending the event, as he was fishing in Rathmullan and never expected to be the big winner of the year.
Forty years on, at the launch of the 2023 Sports Star Awards, they told Donegal Daily’s Charlie Collins of their great memories of that wonderful victory on a very special weekend over the classic Donegal Rally stages.
Bonner winning the Donegal International Rally was very special as it was the only time that the Dungloe man was to take the title. He had come close a couple of times but a weekend in June 1983 was to change all that as Vincent and Seamus McGettigan clinched the title after the Atlantic Drive Stage in their Works Escort that had been bought from Bertie Fisher. They finished 29 seconds ahead of Austin McHale. It had been a trouble free weekend for Bonner but not so for McHale. But, still the Dub was at a stage just eight seconds behind Bonner.
Vincent Bonner’s first ever event was the Rally of the Rosses after the Donegal Motor Club was founded in the early 1970s by a group of men including Austin Frazer and Phonsie McElwee. It all came about following a conversation with Jackie Harris in Bonner’s Dungloe garage. Both Vincent and Jackie were in Minis in an event that was held in conjunction with the Mary from Dungloe Festival.