The more significant differences between this year’s Easter event and most of its 61 predecessors concerned the weather, which was warm and dry, and the entry list, which had gone over 400 within a couple of weeks of the regulations being published. The M.C.C. must take some satisfaction from this enthusiasm amongst its members, especially since it deliberately eschews sponsorship (and stickers), and since those members have to pay twice for their use of the public road — once through their road fund licences, and again through the hefty RAC permit fee, based on the high road mileage (400).
Starters (160 bikes and 190 cars) ranged from Matthew Blake’s 1927 Austin Chummy to the Gray family’s pair of tyre-smoking 2CVs; they included six chain-gang Frazer Nashes, which enjoyed rather mixed mechanical fortunes, a DB2 Aston Martin, and a Jago Geep (whatever that may be) amongst the usual run of big-engined VWs, jacked-up Escorts, and Cortina-engined Dellows.
Starting points on the Good Friday evening were Bristol, Lewdown, and Basingstoke; the routes converged on Ilchester, where competitors were able to eat the second of their three burgers + beans + chips-style breakfasts early on the Saturday morning, before attempting the first of the 18 sections. In spite of the fiscal injustice mentioned above, and all those baked beans, competitors were agreed that it was a particularly good trial this year. Clever timing arrangements by Clerk-of-the-Course Tucker Peake had obviated the queues found in earlier years at the more difficult sections, which gave little time for the taking of photographs. It is rumoured that “Tuck” has been approached with a view to sorting out the queues on the M1 in the Watford Gap area.
The first few sections were quite tame in the dry weather, but Orange (in West Devon) had been liberally doctored with the active ingredient of a nearby midden, and stopped most of the earlier car entry in 1ts tracks. Crackington, in Cornwall, had been similarly if less generously treated. As they neared the finish at Newquay competitors were faced with Blue Hills Mine, which seems to provide an afternoon’s cabaret for several thousand spectators. “Show me a sane man, and I will cure him”, (C. G. Jung). Class winners were: Deacon (Ford), Rule (Ford), Coles (VW), Ray (MG), Fouracre (VW), James (Troll), and Proudfoot (Morgan). — T.J.T.