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Mynydd Eppynt race circuit by Geoff Thomas

I had a call before Christmas from fellow member and old mate Bill Purnell of Pontywaun who many will know as a Vincent expert and general hard rider. He was searching for information about the old Eppynt race circuit and this caused me to do some research.

I knew the layout of the circuit quite well, in fact the Dragon Tour used a section of it in 2004 but I had forgotten what little history of it I ever knew. What I found made an interesting story.

At 1500 feet above sea level, the circuit was high on Eppynt Mountain on the Army ranges west of Sennybridge. It was on public roads in a special category which were, and still are, totally controlled by the military. Access is via the A40 Brecon to Llandovery road at Llywel just west of Trecastle. A minor road which soon becomes a dual carriageway lane leads northward across the ranges towards Tirabad and the start was about 4.5 miles from Llywel at a left junction. There were some army buildings, now demolished, at the junction which was known as Dixie’s Corner.

The anticlockwise circuit continued on the Tirabad road for two miles or so. Then a couple of hairpins and a wide left sweep brought it back at a lower level with a final sharp left turn and a rise back to Dixie’s. The total length was 5.2 miles and the width varied between 16 to 25 feet with many undulations and swervery. All the roads still exist and any ride on them today will tell you how demanding it was as a race venue.

At the end of the war there were no sites available for road racing, other than perhaps some limited opportunity at Cadwell Park. The main pre-war tracks of Brooklands and Donington Park were both out of operation. The law forbade any closure of public roads for racing purposes. However, within a few years the enthusiasm, drive and determination of motorcycle clubs had “discovered” and set up nearly twenty circuits on private land, airfields, parks, army camps etc. Road race meetings were held almost every weekend from April to October and the sport of short circuit racing became immensely popular.

Two of the circuits were in South Wales. Aberdare Park was very short at less than 1400 yards but Eppynt was the longest “short circuit” in the country. It was the brainchild of the Carmarthen and Builth Wells Clubs who were able to persuade the War Office to make the roads available. The site was remote and exposed but the going was superb and the terrain made natural grandstands for spectators.

I hate to think of the logistical difficulties of carrying the marquees, fencing, signing and countless essentials up the mountain, to say nothing of sweeping miles of mountain road but the club members managed all tasks successfully. The circuit was in operation from 1948 to 1953 inclusive and with excellent organisation; it drew good entries and large crowds.The country’s best riders were attracted to the events which came to be known as the mainland Mountain TT.

I have a book on Short Circuit Racing in 1950 and the Eppynt results for 6 May of that year show that Les Graham [348 AJS] dominated the Junior and Senior races with Cyril Sandford [Velo], Maurice Cann [Guzzi] and Fron Puslow [BSA] also winners. Pip Harris [596 Norton] was the Sidecar winner, with Cyril Smith and Bill Boddice also entered, all on Nortons. Fastest lap of the day was by S T Barnett at 70.65mph.

I was also able to find that the speed trials for the Trophy and Vase teams before the International Six Day Trial in 1948 were held at the Eppynt circuit and most of the names brought memories of my avid reading of the Blue ‘un and the Green ‘un of the time - Alan Jefferies, Vic Brittain, Hugh Viney, Ray Alves, Jack Stocker and in the Vase B team was Fred Rist who was the BSA dealer in Neath.

For much more information including the results for all races, every year, with photographs and video clips, have a look at - www.silverdragons.co.uk. which I believe to be mainly the work of Taff “the horn” Isaac.