Nearly twenty years have passed since the narrow, tortuous ribbon of road over Mynydd Eppynt, a bleak open moor in Breconshire, was last used as a daytime speed venue. Motorcyclists, particularly admirers of men of Les Graham’s ability, will remember it well as a perfectly natural, though perhaps a little rough, undulating circuit visited by many events of International status, including the Six Days’ Trial which regularly used the mountain. Good speed venues are rare, and when they exist they should be preserved. It was a sad day for many enthusiasts when Eppynt heard its last competition engine. The reason for its passing is rather vague. The land is owned by the Military who use the surrounding hills as an artillery range, so I doubt whether there is any truth in the tale that local hill farmers complained of the noise. Perhaps congeatitm of Breconshire’s narrow roads by spectators’ cars and motorcycles led to its use being discontinued, but even this cannot be confirmed.
When rallying grew in popularity in the post-war years, the area around Eppyin was much in demand for nocturnal routes; such is its wealth of narrow tracks and complicated junctions. But it soon became evident that, the maximum permissible average speed of 30 m.p.h. fixed by the R.A.C. was not high enough to provide a winner without resorting to tactics such as after-rally tests. The “range roads ” themselves were the obvious choice, since they were not public and could be closed without difficulty, in order to provide off-the-highway stages where high average speeds could be set. Once again. the Army obliged and have since given their encouragement to countless numbers of rallies which have crossed their property, among them the International Rally of Great Britain, which used Eppynt last month as a special stage. the International Welsh Rally, the Gulf London Rally and many others
When Eppynt became so popular a provider of rally special stages,. it seemed rather odd that no-one saw fit to organise a daytime event there, since the Military seemed quite prepared to allow its use at any time provided the big guns were not firing. It took a small motor club in South Wales, that of Port Talbot, to realise the potential of Eppynt in field’s other than rallying, although their first event there was planned, organised and regulated as a rally in order to remain within the bounds permitted by R, A.C. regulations. Called the Tour d’Eppynt—a Welsh title would have been more appropriate—this event took the form of a series of special stages, six in all, with competing cars leaving each start control at one-minute intervals and being timed to the nearest tenth of a second. The variety of cars, all carrying ” navigators ” to comply with rally regulations, was something I have yet to see matched in any single type of event. Stark racing saloons were rubbing shoulders with the more illuminated and under shielded rally cars but the undulating road, surfaced with rough chippings, took it’s toll of the undersides of some, one Lotus t.c. powered Anglia losing an anti-tramp bracket, its fuel line and its exhaust pipe on the first stage. Notwithstanding this, the winning car decided from the usual rally points system. proved to be a lotus Elan S.2 in racing trim, the progress of which had been marked throughout by showers of sparks from beneath.
This coming-to-life of Mynydd Eppynt is to be applauded, particularly as it resulted from the efforts of such comparatively small club. Needless to say, the first daytime event on the mountain since 1947 was a huge success. Though in theory a rally, its form was a smooth combination of race and rally, a compromise which appealed to exponents of both sports. Speed venues all too often fall into disuse and this revival of an old one is something which we would dearly like to see copied in other places we could mention – G.P
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