Interview with an Optimist

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I received a visit the other day from Douglas Jones of Knighton, who has spent a lot of energy in telling Wales that to court prosperity it needs a motor-racing circuit. The public road course Mr. Jones visualises is a truly excellent one, running through Llandrindod Wells, which would be the race headquarters, past the hospital, along the winding road to turn left at Cross Gates roundabout, then along the very fast, hedge-lined stretch of A44, with a long down-hill very fast straight past the Gwystre Inn, a bit narrow but well surfaced, ending in a few tightish bends and corners, to the holiday town of Rhayader, there to turn left at the clock-tower and run along the winding but still very fast road beside the Wye, past a quarry, to Builth Wells, and from there to the spa town of Llandrindod Wells. The cars would race through part of this town, but mainly clear of the shopping area, passing the Automobile Palace and the hospital, on the short winding leg back to Cross Gates roundabout. Llandrindod Wells would be the headquarters town but the site of the Royal Welsh Show at Builth might form the Paddock and scrutineering area.

This would provide a splendid circuit some 30 miles long, better suited to GT than to GP cars but offering no greater policing and marshalling problems than public road circuits in Ireland and the I.o.M. Indeed, the country flanking the circuit is almost entirely agricultural.

The stumbling block, quite obviously, for all Mr. Jones’s enthusiasm, is the Act of Parliament necessary to obtain sanction to close public roads for motor racing. It has killed similar projects in the past—on the South Downs, in the Chilterns, over Salisbury Plain, through the Royal Parks themselves.

But if Welsh National Rule ever came about? Then it might be possible, so it is worth putting on record that Mr. Jones has the wholehearted support of the Llandrindod Wells Chamber of Trade for what he calls the “British Nürburgring,” and has secured a hearing with Mr. Tudor Watkins, M.P. for Brecon and Radnorshire.

Mr. Jones claims that if racing were permitted over this circuit Welsh industry would benefit and, even more important, a solution to the growing problem of leisure time would have been found. I regard this as optimistic, because racing car constructors do not build factories adjacent to public road circuits, and as even a Welsh Government might shrink from closing the A44 for more than one race a year. I think those with more leisure time than is good for them would not be accommodated by Llandrindod’s once-a-year mythical motor race. But Wales needs tourist trade and if this project ever came to fruition, then a worthwhile financial return might very well be found. The prospect, however, is unfortunately, very remote indeed, for the “Welsh Nürburgring.” There are greater possibilities in the proposed small Lake Circuit in Llandrindod Wells, as this is apparently on private ground, although roads would have to be surfaced—if Wales is determined to have motor racing, that is.—W. B.

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