The modern route is as true in its aim as the original was back in 1966.
That aim being to get an assorted bunch of Triumph cars around Britain within 48 hours covering a distance of approximately 2,000 miles.
In 1966 there would have been less “motorway” sections and “by pass” routes available, thus necessitating having to drive through major towns and cities –these tricky bits were made easier in ’66 by local Triumph owners who came out to meet the event as it passed through their patch acting as “Pathfinders”
“Perhaps the most impressive welcome on route was that of the Midland Spitfire Owners’ Club whose line of cars greeted us at the southern end of the M6 and led us unerringly to the M5.”-Quote from 1966
Fast forward 48 years the advisory route is covered by a “Roadbook” which also doubles up as “Signing in book” which is to be completed at the various “controls”-this comprehensive road book can trace its origins back to the ’66 event and is vital pre event reading- allowing entrants to “mark up” a GB road atlas for reference and route familiarisation before the start - in these modern times it provides key information to allow entrants to program various “Sat Navs”.
The modern day start /finish location is 'The Plough' public house at Crews Hill near Junction 25 of the M25. The crews start the first leg to Blyth Services at 18.00hrs.
“The minute hand creeps towards the allocated start time nerves jangle it time with dozens of Lucas starter motors catching and firing into life engines from a bygone era ,creating a cacophony of noise and an aroma of choke rich mixtures as cars settle from fast idle in sync with crews heart beats …the sound smell and noise of 100+ classic Triumphs roaring into life ready for this epic endurance drive is one experience every true petrol head should experience at least once in their life time –the best place to take it in is behind the wheel of one of these cars, window down engaging first …slipping the clutch and your off…” – Quote from 2008
The roadbook guides entrants on to the A10, towards Royston, Hertfordshire, then uses the A505, A1198 and A14 to join the A1 which takes crews further north reaching the Blyth Services control located south east of Doncaster three hours and 140 miles from the start point.
“Nerves settle as the start traffic is cleared, quick scans of the instruments reveal the car has survived the first 100 miles, the headlights are still working, we are not lost and everyone is in fact still talking to each other” - Quote from 2006
More A1 follows the Blyth halt taking the route towards junction 56 and onto the A68 to reach “Carter Bar” control 310 miles from the start
“Once onto the A68 I set about refreshing myself with the finer points of the Dolomite sprint experience……. my confidence was growing as we rose and fell over the hidden dips on our way to the Carter bar control located an hour or so down this wonderful roller coaster of a road”- Quote 2014
Crews stay on the A68 following it to Edinburgh- the ring road takes them to the airport , the departure lounge houses control marshals, welcome coffee outlets and surprised staff to see so many people requiring double espresso shots.
From Edinburgh its ever northwards along the A9 towards Inverness –once over the fourth road bridge it’s a 180 mile slog to the next control located at the Skiatch 24hr truck stop north of the Highland capital.
“The A9 feels like a continual torque sapping hill climb into the highlands, the road ahead marked out for us by distant but familiar looking Triumph tail lights glinting in and out of view ,marking the route past articulated trucks “hauling the night shift” …sections of dual carriage way scattered along the this road provide ample opportunity to pass, flicking the car out of overdrive the induction roar increases with the revs ,soothing the co-driver with a six cylinder lullaby to aid much needed sleep, the early morning A9 experience leaves the part time Triumph driver wondering why his “modern” car doesn’t have O/D, six cylinders and a straight through exhaust ” 2004 quote
Skiatch provides fuel, a stretch of the legs and a driver swap no need to hang about as JoG and breakfast lay in wait 2.5 hrs up the road, again it’s the relentless A9 for the first section hugging the coast allowing sunrise filled views of shimmering oil rigs, eventually leaving the A9 the route joins the A99 -rugged terrain takes over, roadside signage warns of potential ice reminding you how far North you are.
Remnants of “old roads” are seen ducking in land, theses old sections would have carried the ’66 crews around costal coves.
“Coves are breached using recently built bridges, ascending back out via hairpins... “pinking” can now be heard from the old 100,000 miler six pot engine–JoG will bring welcome relief and adjustment for crew and car , but for now the aim is to keep on going -we are on a mission for bacon and eggs ” 1998 quote
Now the only thing on crews minds is the warm reception and excellent breakfast awaiting at the Seaview hotel-the car park which has witnessed many a spannering hero over the years is a welcome sight as cars have now been running well over 12 hours none stop covering the 660 or so miles to this point....
“I noted that the second hand steering wheel had released 20 years worth of stored up grime into my “wheel worn” hands, I switched off the ignition giving the engine its first real rest since the start ... sticky overdrive investigations could wait, I needed coffee and a sit down to collect my thoughts this being my first “RBRR” I wanted to take it all in.” Quote 1996
Post breakfast -crews set off along the A836 stamina has been restored and spirits are lifted by costal views and glimpses of dramatic rip tide.
“Following the excellent breakfast and a change of socks I felt revitalised behind the wheel- thanks in no small part to the “ sea gale” finding its way into my face via dodgy door gap and standard issue ill fitting soft top - it offset the smell of EP90 and exhaust gas coming through the gearbox tunnel” Quote 2012
The route takes the A836 to join the single track B871 which runs parallel with Loch Naver –this is one of the many event highlights –then onto B873 to rejoin the A836 and link up with the scenic B9176
“We had to stop again at Skiatch services to purchase an overpriced pair of cheap sunglasses as my co-driver had used his oversized gluteus maximus to remodel my other pair- he kindly pointed out that at least it was sunny now” Quote 2012
Crews pass Skiatch services for a second time and head for the A862 junction off the A9- this leads to the Conon Bridge Hotel control via Dingwall.
“Time for sandwiches, coffee and banter with other crews about the “Loch road” “Roadbooks” await to be signed by stalwart Marshalls who have been leapfrogging the event, crews swap driving duty -drivers look eagerly at the feast of classic touring roads marked up in dog eared atlases ,co-drivers eye up the reclining passenger seats” quote 2008
The route follows the A862 to Muir of Ord ,then A833 joining the A82 alongside Loch Ness, it heads for Fort Augustus and Fort William reaching Onich before turning inland along the banks of Loch Leven into Glencoes highland gate and onwards towards Callander eventually reaching the last of the Scottish control locations at Sterling ..Famous scotch pies await the brave-980 miles completed
“There are moments whilst driving old cars you think to yourself this is so right it can’t be happening ,the road clears allowing a perfectly timed pass climbing up Glencoe- the six cylinder pulls like a train the exhaust note as sweet as ever, even the track on the cobbled together stereo fits in perfectly with the moment-another passing opportunity presents its self the triple webers take a deep breath as the exhaust howls, this is driving nirvana, it’s for moments like this that we scrabble about on cold garage floors at 2.00 am in the morning then rattle about in smelly old cars for 48 hours” Quote 2004
Post pies at Stirling its Motorway sections to Tebay services off the M6 –it’s a good time for passengers to catch up with sleep as it will be a long night needing many driver swaps.
M6 ,M56,A35 A483 are traversed getting to the Glenrid control off the A5/A483 roundabout, mileage has moved past the 1,000 mark somewhere on the motorways its up to 1,250 by the time the control is reached at 23:00hrs.
The half hour halt allows tanks to be brimmed in preparation for the dead of night run through Wales on the awaiting A483 ...
“You feel enclosed, entrapped on this dark twisting serpent like road completely engrossed with it and the car, concentration at a maximum, surroundings blanked out by darkness, the strip of road immediately in front of you is your only focus, picking out the severe corners, gear changes seem to happen with a subconscious smooth flow ,revs rise and fall in a rhythm your rarely find in everyday driving, 80 miles have passed under the car in what seems like a blink of the eye- the “Club Triumph” banner looms out of the darkness marking the lay-by passage control- it could be 1970 as the smell of hard worked brakes, hot engines and Lucas fuel injection fill the air, roadbooks are passed to Marshalls from co-driver windows , crews swap driving duty ,the words “well driven old boy” float across the still air just seconds before the peace is shattered by a black bonneted Triumph 2000 being “bump” started- it fires up with a grab of rear tyres and a bootfull of throttle before disappearing back into the grip of the night.....” Quote 2010
Its 100 miles before the next halt at Gordarno services off the M5- crews head back onto the A483, A40, A466 and the M48 to cross the Severn using the “old bridge” before tired crews park up at the M5 services for a much needed break.
“We pulled into the services -route book wasn’t due to be signed for half an hour- I fully intended to use that half hour asleep..
..The “thousand yard stare” is prevalent in every face as crews suffer in the painfully bright false lighting of the service area-drivers sipping coffee in preparation for the next motorway section..” Quote 2008
Its back onto the M5,A30 heading south towards the relief of Lands End, the A30 services at Oakhampton provide another welcome control during the second night of driving.
“I checked under the car .....the “M5 badger” hadn’t done any damage but bits of it could be seen on the rear anti roll bar” Quote 2012
Over 1500 miles has now been completed, Lands End is the next halt some 100 miles or so down the road once reached its time for an extended halt and breakfast whilst taking in the sun rise and sea views.
Post breakfast the route takes the A39 to Bude –a great drive to start the final day.
“The roof came down, the sun was up and the road was empty- the 1500 four pot seemed to have enjoyed its rest at Land End and was buzzing down the coast road with vim and vigour, much more vim and vigour than its co-driver who was wedged against the window dribbling and twitching in an uncomfortable sleep”- Quote 2012
The Bude stop sets the tone for the final day – lots of onlooker’s, lots of tea and cake and a great atmosphere.
The route heads out of Bude for a scenic drive over Dartmoor and a control stop at “Badgers Halt”.
The A38 is joined and it’s onto to Exeter, Honiton and the A35 crews are now mixed in with Sunday day trippers as they make their way to Pimperne village hall for the best Tea and cake fest laid on by
Nearly 1,900 miles completed and only one more control to make before the finish back in London, that control is the TR register head quarters off the A34 near Didcot power station-coffee ,a warm welcome and a cheer from fellow Triumph enthusiasts spur you on for the final slog -Crews head off to do battle with the A34, A40 and M40 in a bid to get onto the M25 and cover the last few miles to Junction 24 and the Crews Hill finish – some 48hrs and just over 2,000 miles since they started