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1924 to 2013

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Club History
Llys y Fran

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Penrice Hillclimb 1972 to 1974

After a quiet period, competitions restarted when the club gained permission from the owner of Penrice Castle, Christopher Methuen Campbell, to run a hillclimb, and  in October 1972 the club started using the new hillclimb course at Penrice using the driveways of Penrice Castle, the home of the Methuen Campbells.

Penrice Hillclimb was set in the Methuen Campbell's private estate and ran alongside the lake adjacent to 13th Century Penrice castle and the 18th Century Mansion. Certainly there has seldom been a more magnificent setting in which to hold a hillclimb

Using the estate roads the course ran for 840 yards with a track width was between 12 to 16 feet and 130 yards of double armco barrier. The track ran from the start, up a quarter mile long straight climbing up a gradient of 1in 26, into a slight uphill right hand bend, followed by a 50 yard straight into a left hand bend that tightened into a very sharp right hand hairpin. From the hairpin, the course took a tight right hand bend climbing another 1in 10 gradient, into a left hander and then a slight right/left kink through a cutting on the finish line 50 yards further on.

Certainly there has seldom been a more magnificent setting in which to hold a hillclimb, on the beautiful Gower coast just above the magnificent Oxwich Bay, with the finish line in site of the Castle Towers.

However it proved quick in the extreme with the FTD at the first meeting going to Peter Voight in his Palliser Repco (pictured below) with a time of 30.05 seconds! Richard Thwaites lowered that to 29.13 secs one year later to set a hill record that stood throughout 1974 as well.wpe1D.jpg (16875 bytes)

In 1974 the 26th June event was included as part of the clubs Golden Jubilee celebrations, and it attracted a galaxy of top stars including British Hillclimb Champion Sir Nicholas Williamson, and other soon to be champions Roy Lane, Chris Cramer, and Tony Griffiths. This as far as is known was the last event to held at Penrice, as after only 5 events the arrangement with the estate owners came to end and that was the end of an event that has become a well loved part of the clubs history.

However during its time it also became synonymous with hard work, with the estate owners, not unreasonably,  insisting that the 130 yards of double armco that needed to be erected was dismantled at the end of each meeting.  As seems to be the way, most of the work seemed to fall on the shoulders of a few volunteers which can take the gloss of even the best events.

Amongst the organisers of the event were the Shellard brothers Mike & Simon. However sadly, sometime following the end of competitions at Penrice, Simon died of a heart attack whilst only in his late 30s. Simon is remembered by a competitors at Llys y fran as they go through Shellards corner.

Penrice could be considered an event of it's time, as by todays standards with parts of the course running past a sheer drop on one side and a cliff face on the other, it might be considered too tight for comfort. Also after 30 years advances, todays cars, with the advances in suspension, tyres, aerodynamics, not to mention power outputs and traction control, would have been able to reduce the hill record well below the record of 29.13. Even so quite rightly, it retains it's mythical status in the clubs history. 


Programme covers  

Results 14th October 1973

Entries 16th June 1974