36th M.C.C. Exeter Trial (January 6/7th)

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This year’s event attracted an entry of 265 cars, motorcycles, sidecars, bubble cars and scooters and showed an increase over previous years, when it seemed that the Motor Cycling Club’s annual classic road trial was declining in popularity. Modern cars could climb most of the hills with ease and most of the regular competitors knew all the tricky spots. However, possibly due to restrictions on road rallies the numbers of competitors on the Exeter have increased and with the intrusion of ice and rain during this year’s event they found that a ” clean sheet ” was not a foregone conclusion.

Competitors came from three starting points along ice-bound roads to the converging point at Honiton, then on to the simple Pin Hill test and breakfast in Exeter. The icy roads had taken their toll and although no serious accidents appear to have occurred a number of cars revolved and received minor dents and the ensuing delays made most drivers up to an hour late.

After breakfast competitors tackled a new hill called ” Vinnicombe ” which featured a water filled gully and some interesting bumps, and managed to defeat a number of motorcyclists and three-wheelers. Fingle Bridge was next in line and its gentle gradients and great length gave little trouble to most competitors although the Austin Sevens and Mini-Minors were very often left standing with their front wheels scrabbling at the dirt. A stop and restart test for the ” specials ” proved no great obstacle.

At Simms Hill which is extremely short and steep, having an average gradient of about 1 in 2½ to 1 in 3, the cars which were low on power were very often defeated while some failed to appreciate that it was necessary to take the first right-hander at speed in order to “rush” the steep portion. Dauphines and Heralds did not seem to like this hill but VWs, Skodas, Hillmans, Morgans and even the Minis went up with little apparent trouble.

With darkness descending we by-passed Stretes and Harcombe to visit Waterloo Hill. This steep and winding hill proved the downfall of a number of cars and long delays occurred as they were manhandled out of the mire so that darkness had fallen by the time the last car extricated itself and sped for Weymouth and the finish. Not a difficult event by present-day standards but a pleasant and inexpensive way of spending a week-end.