Epsom to Chandlers Cross
The 2018 Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial will once again set the standard for all other pre-war motoring events to follow. The first nights’ accommodation is Sunday night, just outside Reading, with Scrutineering and the start of the event taking place at Woodcote Park during the day. A planned 3pm start sees a trip up the Captains Drive before a two hour scenic drive, with a regularity, to the overnight hotel. The following days sees the first cars finishing early where practical than in previous years to allow crews more social time or even chance to catch up on business related matters, as the schedule sees the first crews returning at either 17:00 or 17:30 each day.
The overnight stay on days two and three will be in the iconic Metropole Hotel in the Spa town of LLandrindod Wells with the route in the heartlands of British rallying and the gateway to the majestic scenery of Wales
Top three are
First Overall –
Car 25 Peter Lovett / Matt Fowle
Frazer Nash BMW 328
Second Overall –
Car 26 Stephen Owens / Bart den Hartog
Third Overall –
Car 34 Daniel Gresly / Elise Whyte
MG TB Supercharger
Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial- Event Report
The 2018 Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial has again set the standard for all other pre-war motoring events. 1090 miles of the best roads in Britain, 27 regularities, 19 tests and 30 of the top crews battled it out over 6 days in 30+ degree heat.
Starting off from the Royal Automobile Club in Epsom, crews began with a test along the captain’s drive, where they had the opportunity to stretch their cars legs at the beginning of the event. The route then took competitors through the leafy lanes of Surrey via a straight forward ‘warm up’ regularity and onto the De Vere Wokefield estate for the night. The first day of the event did not count towards the overall result but offered crews a chance to check their cars and in-car equipment was working correctly. A few woes along the way for the crews of Sue Shoosmith and Trina Harley as their Bentley didn’t feel like taking part in the event and they were forced to rush home and swap cars ready to continue the following day. The Riley 15/6 of team Schneider seemed to be collecting a wide range of foliage along the way to the overnight halt and the all-American crew were quite surprised to see so many narrow lanes that we have here in the UK. The crew of Andrew Hall and Michael Squire were suffering from a lack of reverse and some ‘un-efficient’ brakes, an incredibly late night was in store for them as they battled to get their Bentley ready for the days ahead.
The second day of the event started off with beautiful weather that got progressively warmer as the day continued. The morning coffee stop at the newly refurbished Jack Russell Inn went down very well with competitors and a vast array of cookies and flapjacks were proving rather popular with the crews. It was at this point in the day that we started to lose the first of the many retirements we had this year. Reto Mebes and Hansjurgen Bernze were forced to retire with a broken axle in their Bentley Derby 3 ½ drophead. A hog roast lunch at the Royal Signals Museum gave crews an opportunity to recharge themselves and the cars a chance to cool down and mark their territory with drops of oil and coolant! A variety of regularities throughout the rest of the day and a test at the clay pigeon raceway kept crews in high spirits as they battled their way through the Somerset levels and onto the overnight stop at Cadbury House. A few of the cars took a bit of a beating over the Somerset levels, Daniel Gresly and Elise Whyte lost a number plate and bent their rear lights when their MG TB hit the floor. Ian and Ewan Beattie whacked the underside of their Hotchkiss on the same piece of private track, giving Ian a good reason to buy a new exhaust as he was in the market for one already.
As morning broke on day 3 of the event, everybody could easily see that it was going to be another spectacular day. Starting in Bristol and heading towards the iconic Metropole hotel and spa, famous for its links with motorsport associations throughout the country, crews had the opportunity to tackle a selection of regularities and three separate tests at Castle Combe circuit. It was here that the Hotchkiss of Ian and Ewan Beattie lost their clutch and began to ponder over what they would do next. There’s just one Hotchkiss specialist in the UK and as luck would have it, located just 20 minutes down the road from Castle Combe! They had a clutch in stock that would fit and the turnaround time was just 4 hours. This meant the Beattie crew would be able to get back on the road, be back at the Metropole in time for dinner and later go on to win the ‘spirit of the rally’ award. The rest of the crews had the chance to enjoy the areas surrounding the heads of the valleys and they even had a well-deserved ice cream break at Penderyn distillery. The crews then headed towards the Epynt military ranges where they had the chance to blast out the cobwebs on two tests in the same area that many motorsport events are hosted.
The route for day 4 was in a different league! I may be somewhat biased here with my love for road rallying, but having the opportunity to use the same lanes used on night events, in the day time was very special. Battling their way around mid-Wales alongside some incredibly low levelled reservoirs, passing old slate mines, forgotten about villages, hearing and then seeing F15 fighter jets blasting through the Elan valley and experiencing ‘God’s country’ for all that it has to offer, went down very well with the crews and there were many stories to tell that evening in the bar.
The final two days of the event started to mix up the results and we were losing crews left, right and centre. We had already lost Bill Cleyndert and Robert Elis in the Ford Model A Special, Adrian and Charles Atkinson in the Alvis speed 25 and Robert Kieffer and Andreas Kopp in the Riley 12/4 Special, Dominic and Jack Manser in the Bentley 3/4 1/2 and we were just about to lose the leaders, Paul Crosby and Pete Johnson in the Supercharged MG TB. Dilwyn Rees and Andrew Deurden were forced to retire after their steering box failed and that left us down to just 23 cars, with 3 of those cars touring and no longer competing in the event. During the last regularity of day 5, Bertie and Pierre van Houtte lost a wheel after a bearing shattered on their Frazer Nash BMW 328 and they were forced to retire leaving just 19 crews left.
Heading into the last day there were just 25 seconds separating the top 3 crews and less than a minute separating the top 10! By morning coffee, the gap had been closed to 19 seconds and there had been multiple changes further down the field. We heard from the crews that they had enjoyed the morning’s regularity and a blast around Whilton Mill Kart Circuit. The competitors had to deal with a short reroute as the cars passed Silverstone race circuit, giving them a short break from the tulips before the final test at Bicester heritage. Here, crews had the chance for one last hurrah in their cars before the final coffee stop of the rally, in the blistering sun at Caydon House. It was just a short drive to the finish line at Latimer house in Chandlers Cross, where all the competitors were greeted with a glass of champagne as they passed under the legendry Hero archway.
Having dropped just 3 minutes and 15 seconds over the entire 1090 mile route it was Peter Lovett and Matt Fowle who took the win in their Frazer Nash BMW 328. Closely followed by Stephen Owens and Bart den Hartog in the Jaguar SS100 who dropped 3 minutes and 32 seconds and then Daniel Gresly and Elise Whyte in the supercharged MG TB who dropped just 3 minutes and 49 seconds from the calculated ideal times.
The 2018 Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial returns with a format designed to allow competitors to have more time socialising and enjoying the outstanding hospitality the event gives. Sunday, 8th July will see crews assemble at Woodcote Park for scrutineering and documentation before a welcome lunch in the superb surroundings of Woodcote Park. First cars will leave at 15:00 and make their way up the Captains Drive in the first action of the event, a driving test. Following this, there will be a run to the Reading area via some of the very scenic lanes en route, this leg is intended as a prologue to ease you into the competition. We arrive in the Reading area for the first overnight halt on the event.
The route includes a two night stay in Mid Wales and will be planned to be as traffic free as possible with some of the finest driving roads in the UK being used. Throughout the week the event will keep away from major conurbations and city centre overnight venues, relying mainly on country hotels with the finish conveniently located north of London near Watford. With the first car due to finish between 17:00 and 17:30 each day, there is plenty of time for socialising and the traditional high-jinks that make the Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile more than a motor sport event, it is an occasion.
This event runs under the regulations of the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA)
Sunday - Leg One – The event starts from the delightful Woodcote Park with cars being flagged away in front of the impressive country home of the Royal Automobile Club following completion of the British Grand Prix with Club Members watching from the terrace before tackling a special test up the infamous Captains Drive before heading out into the leafy lanes of Surrey, en route to the overnight halt in Wokefield Park, near Mortimer.
Competitors will tackle a short regularity to get into the spirit of the event - this will also provide a chance to ensure all the equipment is working correctly ready for the next days of competition that follow.
Monday - Leg Two – The start sees us initially heading south west from the start hotel before we tackle two regularities through the Inkpen area, these sections will be recognisable to some of the crews who have competed on the event previously before taking in coffee at a recently refurbished Public House, quaintly named The Jack Russell.
Once refreshed, a short regularity to keep your mind occupied then a long run down south skirting Stonehenge before a short run over the downs near Shaftsbury and onto lunch at the Royal Signals museum at Blandford Camp. Immediately after lunch we head south to the Bovington Tank ranges for a brace of tests. Following this, crews will be taking the cars across country through the rolling Dorset hills and a short regularity before we arrive at the afternoon coffee stop at the Clay Pigeon Raceway where you will be able to watch your fellow competitors throwing their cars around the test.
We then wind our way northwards towards the overnight hotel before one final regularity on the Somerset levels and a run over the Mendip Hills and through to the overnight halt at Cadbury House south of Bristol.
Tuesday - Leg Three - This sees us skirting around Bristol airport before heading across the countryside wending our way around the outskirts of Bath and crossing the River Avon before a short regularity and then three tests on the Castle Combe Racing Circuit. This was thoroughly enjoyed by the crews last year. Following the tests we stop off at a local hostelry for well-deserved refreshments before a challenging regularity to the north east of Badminton House, before skirting the northern parts of Bristol and crossing into Wales over the new Severn crossing.
Our route takes us through Chepstow and onward taking in two regularities as we travel across the Heads of the Valleys and over the first Welsh hills of the event. This will include a trip around the Tal-y-Bont reservoir before a stop off at the Penderyn Distillery for a brief coffee stop. Following this, there will be a classic regularity in the the wondrous mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The final action of the day sees the cars venture onwards to the Sennybridge Army Training Area, a large military training facility where we have arranged two wonderful tests on the open roads and a private land regularity using the infamous Epynt Ranges. This has been used for numerous rally events over the years and allows us to make a short run into our overnight halt at the iconic Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells where the crews will spend the next two nights.
Wednesday - Leg Four – takes us on a clockwise loop around mid-Wales, heading over the renowned Abergwesyn Mountain Pass (including the Devils Staircase) before a short test south of Tregaron and a coffee halt in the centre of the town at Y-Talbot Inn Hotel. We then head north east to two further tests at a motorsport venue hidden away in the hills prior to another regularity finishing just south of Aberystwyth. We’ll be taking lunch at the beautiful Nanteos Mansion on the outskirts of the town.
Today is all about classic mountain roads and immediately after lunch there is a regularity which runs alongside the Nant-y-Moch reservoir ending up in Tal-y-Bont. Following this, a link section takes us through Machynlleth and over the Dylife mountain road for another regularity around the borders of Clywedog Dam, before a brief respite at a small rural public house.
Our route then then takes us on the A44, through the picturesque Devil’s Bridge and through the stunning Elan Valley, before the final section of the event, arriving back in Llandrindod Wells to complete what we feel will be the best driving day of the event.
Thursday - Leg Five – Leg Five - We bid farewell to the spa town of Llandrindod Wells heading north on a relatively long day taking in a regularity around the Sarnau Forest complex, although we will be sticking to the tarmac roads and not venturing into the forest. After crossing over the mountains to Newtown, there is a new by-pass currently under construction so crews will need to be aware of any new roundabouts which may appear! The morning’s route then finishes with a regularity section which finishes in the grounds of Gregynog House where coffee will be taken.
From Gregynog, we go over more hills to Llanfair Caereinion and a short regularity down the Cwm Nant-y-Meichiaid before a run over the border back into England for tests at the iconic Loton Park Hill climb. This was the birthplace of our Clerk of the Course who was born directly opposite the gates to the hill climb. Lunch is served at Rowton Castle Hotel, a venue we visited on the first modern running of the Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial.
After lunch, we will be passing north of Shrewsbury before a regularity taking in a small bit of private land at the behest of Major Hayes, a gentleman who has extensive history of competing in motorsport events. So much so that whilst having a coffee with him over his kitchen table he informed us that he was class winner in the 1953 London Rally - whilst in the police and in his Triumph TR3 patrol car - a picture of which is proudly on displayed in his study.
Afternoon coffee is taken at Weston Park and a further regularity takes us around to the north of Cannock Chase before finishing off with a test at Curborough Sprint Course which we have used on a number of occasions. We will overnight at the wonderful Belfry Hotel for the penultimate night of the event.
Friday - Leg Six – Suitably refreshed, the final day sees us starting out from the Belfry into a test at the nearby Merevale Hall. Regular competitors on the Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial will be aware of this venue and it precedes a regularity that sees us wend our way around the towns of Nuneaton, Coventry and Hinckley.
A short regularity finishes to the south of Rugby before we visit Whilton Mill Kart Circuit either side of lunch for two tests at yet another favourite venue of the event. The penultimate regularity sees us in and around the Preston Capes area of Northamptonshire before we head south, passing Silverstone for a test at Bicester Airfield, coffee at Claydon Estate and House, famous for its growing Classic car event. The short and final regularity finishes north of Aylesbury before a run to the finish hotel at Latimer House, Chandlers Cross for the party to begin.
HERO Standard Regulations 2018
Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial 2018 ASR's
Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial 2018 Entry List by number
Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial 2018 Results Book
End of Day 1 Report- Royal Automobile Club 1000 Mile Trial
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