Like many classic sporting events, the annual Allen Classic Trial takes its name from a trophy; this one was presented to the club in 1938 by the Armstrong Siddeley agent of that name at the top of Park Street in Bristol, in the premises that are now occupied by Pizza Express.
Don’t be misled by the name – Classic Trials are for all sorts of cars (and motorbikes in some events). What is “classic” about classic trials is the format, which has its roots back in the 1930s. To put it simply, in a trial you have to drive your car up a number of narrow, steep, muddy slopes and try to avoid getting stuck. There are penalties if you fail, and the winner is the competitor with the lowest score at the end of the day. There is a route of 70-100 miles on the public highway to get from one slope, or ‘section’, to the next, and any timing is used to keep the whole event on some sort of schedule rather than as a way of penalising competitors. Many of the observed sections, on which one’s performance is determined, are the same ones that were used 80-odd years ago, and they are still as challenging as they were then.
You’ll find much more about Classic Trials on the informative Association of Classic Trials Clubs website, including how to get started in the sport (See External Links).
First run in its current form in 1946, The Allen continues to attract a full entry for the 75-mile drive around the Mendip countryside every November, taking in such classic sections as Big Uplands, John Walker, Toghill, Travers and Burledge. It takes its place alongside other established Classic Reliability Trials in the annual calendar, and has twice won the national Trial of the Year award.
It is a tour de force for the organising team who each year give weeks of their time planning the route, preparing the sections, conducting an enormous PR exercise, and recruiting and delivering equipment to the 100-plus marshals, without whom the event simply would not happen.
These days the Allen starts and finishes at The Bull at Hinton, roughly 5-minutes south of the M4 junction-18, between Bristol and Bath. Here’s a video record of the first-time experience of two club members in 2013.
Apart from the eponymous trophy for the winner, the Best Performance by a Bristol MC member is rewarded by the Gilbert Best Memorial Trophy, named in honour of a staunch club member and successful triallist in the 1940s and 50s.
Read Carlie Hart’s history of the Allen, first published in the ACTC magazine Restart in 1999.
Please click here for the results of the last Allen Classic Trial.
Detailed competitor information, with Supplementary Regulations and Entry Form, will be published on this website a few weeks before the next event