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How To Start

The following instructions are for drivers/riders who wish to enter the main classes. However some ACTC trials and the three MCC trials run a class 0 (clubsport) for novices or people with cherished vehicles. Class 0 misses out the most damaging or difficult sections and drivers / riders do not need a competition licence. However they MUST be a member of one of the invited clubs and have insurance cover for the public road elements of an event. The MCC is probably the best club to join to take part in class 0, although if you want to enter other clubsport events you will need to join the ACTC.

Main Classes
Firstly there are some administrative matters to be dealt with. You must be a current member of an ACTC member club. For motorcycle riders membership of an appropriate ACU Centre club is required, although most clubs offer one-day memberships. Alternatively, membership of a club which has all-centre qualification or is an ACTC member club, such as the MCC.

Motorcyclists may find this beginner’s guide useful

From January 2008 passengers in National B Trials are required to be members of one of the invited clubs. 

You must have a competition licence – for cars issued by the Motor Sports Association and for bikes by the ACU. Most rounds of the ACTC Championship are of National B status, requiring either a Clubman or any National B licence – your licence will be inspected at the start of each event. If you do not intend to compete in any other form of motorsport apart from trials then a Clubman licence is sufficient. Motorsport UK licence holders receive a copy of the Motorsports Yearbook (‘the Blue Book’) and a regular newsletter.

To obtain a licence it is necessary to complete an application form, which is obtainable from Motorsport UK

Motorsport UK
Motorsport UK House
Riverside Park
Colnbrook
SL3 0HG

01753 765000

Thirdly, register with ACTC; this will ensure that your name and address are automatically passed to event secretaries and a set of regulations will be posted to you in good time to enter the event. It is only £11 to enter and this includes a PDF version of the quarterly magazine Restart. To register with ACTC download the entry form here.

It should be noted that regulations for MCC events, The Exeter, Lands End and Edinburgh, are only sent to MCC members and it is necessary to be an MCC member to take part in these trials.

Also you must make sure that your vehicle has the correct insurance cover for the public road elements of an event; most events now include this insurance as part of the entry fee. (this only covers the event itself, not you driving to/from the event!) 

And last, but by no means least, you need to choose your vehicle!:

Car Classes
Motorcycle Classes

You will also need to know about :

Approved Tyre List for Cars (updated October 2018)

Tyre Regulations for Bikes (updated January 2018)

ACTC Rules 2014
ACTC Rules 2014 Appendix A1 – Cars
ACTC Rules 2014 Appendix B1 – Motorcycles

Class Identification

Preparing your vehicle

What is a Classic Trial ?

Firstly, the point has to be made that classic trials are not just for classic cars or bikes, although many do take part. Classic trials are for all sorts of cars and motorbikes. What is “classic” about classic trials is the format of the events.

Today’s classic trials reflect the style that was prevalent in the 1930s when works teams from Ford, Austin, Singer, MG and others battled it out for advertising honours over long distances and the steep muddy slopes of the country. The route is used primarily to get from one slope to the next and the timing is used mainly to keep the whole event on some sort of schedule rather than as a way of penalising competitors. Many of the observed sections, which is the name given to the muddy slopes on which one’s performance is observed are the same ones which were used at that time and are still as capable of challenging modern vehicles as they were then.

The average modern classic trial runs to about 70-100 miles on roads in between the observed sections. There are usually 14-18 sections to each event with a variety of different surfaces to test your skills. The events are scored by markers by the side of the section, numbered from 12 at the bottom down to 1 at the top. Marks are scored by getting the front wheel(s) past the marker. At the end of the day the driver/rider with the lowest score is the winner. Sometimes sections will include a stop & restart test. If you remember the trauma of the hill start when you were learning to drive, this gives you some idea of this test, but now you are asked to do the same on a 1 in 4 hill on thick mud or greasy rock, without rolling back so much as an inch. In addition there is usually a tie deciding speed test to resolve competition between drivers/riders who have scored the same number of penalties.

Each year there are about 20-25 of these trials each organised by one of the member clubs that comprise The Association of Classic Trials Clubs (ACTC). Numbers are normally limited to between 60 and 100 competitors. About 16 of the events make up the ACTC annual championships, the two main awards for cars in this being the ‘Wheelspin Trophy’ with points awarded for overall position and the ‘Crackington Cup’ with points awarded based on position in class. There are two awards for motorcycles – the Pouncy League for solos and the Red Rose Bowl for 3-wheelers.

In addition to the ‘one day’ events described above are the three Motor Cycling Club (MCC) classics. The basic format is similar but with a number of significant differences: the penalties are not graded from 12 to 1, each section is either “cleaned” or “failed”; the road mileage may be anything up to 450 miles with several sections to be tackled at night; the events being run over Friday nights and Saturdays with a typical starting time being midnight and an expected finish of 5.00pm the following day. Whereas most ‘one day’ trials have a history of less than fifty years, the MCC classics date back to before the 1st World War and are still run over substantially the same routes. Awards are based on a simple system of a ‘Gold’ for climbing all the hills, a ‘Silver’ for failing one, and a ‘Bronze’ for failing two. Those gaining a ‘Gold’ in all three events in a season receive a ‘Triple’ – the triallist’s ultimate award.

One of the main appeals of the sport is that it can be competitive on what ever level you prefer. Because the events are run over the same or very similar courses every year, the driver/rider who does not aspire to outright victory can indulge in his or her own private battle with himself rather in the manner of reducing one’s golf handicap. I did not climb this one last year…. I can never get round that corner… I climbed that one for the first time this year…. All the observed sections have names which makes they easy to identify in the bar afterwards and to follow a sense of history. Books on pre-war motorsport talk with fascination about Simms, Beggars Roost and Nailsworth Ladder, all of which are still stopping cars and bikes today. Classic trials are one of the friendliest forms of motor sport and, as sponsorship and financial gain are non-existent, there tends to be only the best form of rivalry between competitors. It is very common to find a crew working on a vehicle with the assistance of someone with whom they are directly competing.

Want to come and have a go ? Here’s how.

Read Doug Hagerman’s article, which gives an excellent overview of our eccentric sport.

Time For A Change

I’ve been a part of the ACTC council since it inception way back in 1978.  I was Championship Secretary for a while back in the 1980’s and I became Chairman in 1988.   I stepped down from this role in the early 1990’s and David Alderson took over.  To help wean David into his new role I stayed on as Vice-Chairman.   18 months later David decided to retire out to Turkey and within an instant was gone.   As Vice-Chairman, this act bounced me straight back into the Chairman’s seat and I’ve been there ever since.  So by next year I will have been in the hot seat for over twenty years, which is far too long for anyone to run any voluntary organisation.  The problem with being in such a role for such a length of time is that you start to generate a self belief that “I’ve been doing this for so long that I know best” and whilst experience and an intimate knowledge can be important in seeing past the immediate problem, it can blind you to the way the sport is evolving.   I started driving in what are now called Classic Trials in 1970.  There was no formal name back then, nor were there any rules, other than the MCC SSR’s, so the nearest thing to a ruling body was the MCC Exec Committee.   As youngsters, we looked at them and thought “silly old duffers, what do they know about what competitors really want”.   Now I fear that I am on the other side of the street, with the younger generation looking at me and thinking much the same.   Another disadvantage of being in a role for a long time is that people become reluctant to try to push one out, believing either that it would be disrespectful to do so, or that there might be acrimonious fall out back on them selves.   It is always better to jump than to be pushed, and I therefore announced at the recent ACTC Council meting that I would not be standing for the Chairmanship next year.
I hope I’ve done some good during my long sojourn I’m sure I’ve made some mistakes, but I would like to think that I’ve helping in making our sport more cohesive, and better understood by those not directly involved.   I won’t be disappearing completely, as Robin Moore has also intimated his desire to step down from the Presidency.   If Council is willing to have me, then I would happily assist the new chairman from this lofty position.

Kingpin Tyres

Tris White has taken me to task for my comment in RESTART that the Kingpin K4S tyre would be banned overnight if the Council decided that it should not be on the list. That is of course only one of a number of possible outcomes. It is equally likely that the tyre would remain on the list until the end of the championship year (December 2012/January 2013).

It is also possible that circumstances will overtake us anyway, as it would seem that this pattern is becoming a hard to find item already. I just want to caution people against building up stocks of this cover only to find themselves with spares on their hands that they cannot use or get rid of.