Story Sunday: 1949 Colmore Trial

1949 Colmore Trial

We did a lot of climbing muddy hills in the post war years.  On this day in 1949, we ran The Colmore and here’s what appeared in the club’s journal soon after…

The Colmore 12th March, 1949.

The years roll by, but every one (Government willing) brings with it that classic ‘The Colmore.’ The latest event in the series will take a lot of beating. Austen May had been to considerable trouble to find an exceptionally sporting course, and is to be congratulated on the result.  Sunbac organisation was well up to standard, and even the weather turned in milder, after an exceptionally cold spell.

The entry list closed at seventy-five, and some twenty hopefuls had to be turned away. As competitors left at two minute intervals, with an extra ten minutes between every ten cars, I saw very little of the other drivers or their performances.

On arriving at the first hill, name of Fish (probably because it was so difficult to prevent one’s car skating about the place), I was told that only Wharton had climbed it out of the previous fifteen attempts, so I didn’t think there was any hope for yours truly!

The section consisted of a very slippery restart, the gradient sharpening in about three yards to about 1 in 4, and continuing for some seventy or eighty yards. To my surprise, my M.G. made it, assisted by much bouncing, and we were immediately surrounded by an excited crowd all wanting to shake hands and congratulate us. There were eleven other clean climbs here, all of which were specials.

My success was short lived, however, for the second hill followed immediately, and I failed on the brink, having gone into a bad slide just before the steep parts, losing speed at the crucial moment. As this was a considerably easier hill than the first, I could have kicked myself for not being more careful.

Kineton was very slippery with its rock slabs and watersplash at the foot. It was touch and go as to whether we cleared it or not, but bouncing just saved the day. I was surprised later to hear that most competitors thought this hill rather easy.

Then came three special tests, all of the speed type with flying finish, which were quite exciting. One was held on a grass triangle, and many were the tales of competitors running out of road on the slimy corners. We passed the finishing line in a broadside. This probably spoilt our time a bit, but we returned 21.2 against the of 19.8 up to then.

Next we came to a hill that failed the whole entry in 1937—Warren. A very sharp camber with a clay surface on a left hand corner before approaching the steep part of the hill failed the majority of the entry. Even Ken Wharton made his only ‘slip’ here. A little exuberance on the camber, and the front wheels took control, from which there was no recovery. Scott with his H.R.G. made the grade, and so did we, but clean climbs seemed to be the exception to the rule. All cars had to return to the foot of the hill, and were lowered down by a rope gang.

Laverton was liquid mud, and we simply plastered ourselves, though the hill itself was failing practically nobody, as there was a hard surface beneath the mess.

Finally we came to the last hill, Meow. This was sheer murder for ordinary sports cars, the only one to make the grade being Delingpole’s H.R.G. The sections consisted merely of two tractor tracks about quarter of a mile long, with firm mud a foot deep in between. I hit it at about 45m.p.h. in second, and pulled up as though I had applied four-wheel mudbrakes. Delingpole had a late number and possibly much of the top had been sliced off by the time he arrived. This was the only hill which I had cause to criticise, but then, as seventy-five per cent of trials entries to-day are specials, perhaps I have no ground to grumble.

J. Clegg with a Ford special won the Colmore Trophy, Holt, Rawlings and Bold winning the respective cups for their classes. The only first class award went to Ken Burgess.

A fine trial with ten hills and three special tests to provide competitors with plenty of fun for their money, and well worth the journey entailed.

A. W. Morrish.

1949 Colmore Trial