Curtis Bennett Trophy Rally Reunion, Wales

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Curtis Bennett Trophy Rally Reunion, Wales

The year 2023 was the centenary of the Civil Service Moring Assn. when a number of celebratory events were organised. One of these was a reunion for the association’s premier car rally, the Curtis Bennett trophy rally.
Taking extra time to get to the reunion gave me a chance to climb Sugar Loaf (the mountain in the Black Mountains near Abergavenny not Rio).
Sugar Loaf was just right, although a little cloudy to start with it cleared later. At 2,000ft it was a reasonable challenge without having to rush before meeting up with everyone else.
The Curtis Bennett trophy was presented to the CSMA for motor sport by a founder and influencer of the association, Sir Noel Curtis Bennett. This was then used for what became the Curtis Bennett trophy rally which ran for 72 years, 44 of these were based at the Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells, I competed in 15 of them. The Metropole is a large Victorian hotel popular with many sporting clubs and associations. 2007 was the last time the rally ran, its sad demise was the result of increased population, tighter regulations and less suitable roads and tracks suitable for its use.
It’s something like 30 years since I competed in the rally so, on arrival at Llandrindod Wells, distant memories were immediately brought to the fore. I was pleased to find that the town was still beautifully ensconced in its Victorian time-warp and relatively unspoilt by 20th and 21st century modernity.
Highlight of the reunion weekend was a 100 mile non-competitive run using classic mountain roads as used many times in the rally of days gone by. The route was defined by Tulip diagrams, a reminder of one form of rally navigation. Leaving Llandrindod Wells the route headed West via Beulah before the interesting roads started with a climb through the high and twisty Abergwesyn pass to Tregaron.
Lunch stop was at Devils Bridge where we were joined by nearly all of the country’s bikers, we decided to have a quick look at the bridge before moving on.
Although still interesting the Elan Valley roads were faster and mainly developed during the construction of six dams built at the beginning of the 20th century as the main water supply for Birmingham
The reunion was wrapped up with a treasure hunt around the town. Even though I had competed in the CB rally and visited Llandrindod Wells many times in days gone by there were still parts of the town I hadn’t seen before, particularly the Rock Garden. This was a wooded country park where the old Victorian Spa was situated.
A very enjoyable weekend reminiscing of our sporting past and an appropriate inclusion in our CSMA centenary celebrations.

Stafford Steed