Lost Track: Brynfan Tyddn
Following up on our last classic track piece on the Bridgehampton road circuit, let’s look at another track featured in the Last Open Road series of books. The Brynfan Tyddn road course saw action from 1952-56. “Brynfan Tyddn” is Welsh for “Large Farm on the Hilltop”, and consisted of a winding road around T. Nowell Wood’s 690 acre lake house estate. The race was an offshoot of a long running hillclimb event, the “Giant’s Despair”.
The running gag about the course in the book is how dangerous and tight the course is, despite it’s 3.5 mile track length. Looking at photos from the era, it’s not hard to see why. The road surface looked like crumbling asphalt barely a lane and a half wide, and looks more like a golf-cart track than a racing circuit – even in the days of back country racing of the early ’50s. Despite these shortcomings, the track drew huge numbers of fans and some interesting racers and cars. Carrol Shelby won this race in 1956 driving a Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa in what would be the last race for the course due to a track fatality.
But the 2.5 liter Ferrari’s win seems to have been an exception at Brynfan Tyddn as the course was historically dominated by smaller displacement racers: Keifts, Porsches, MGs, Siatas, and OSCAs. In fact, in the earliest years of the race, cars were limited to 1900cc engines. Perhaps maintaining the lower displacement rules would have kept the ’56 race safer and would have seen many more years circling Mr. Wood’s property.
Like the bulk of the road courses of the ’50s, the roads are still there, here’s a link to a Google map of the roads that made up the course, along with an approximate location of the start finish line. If you head out there, send me a photo.
Also worth checking out is this scan of a 1952 Road & Track report from that summer’s outing.
You can buy prints of Carrol Shelby’s race and a brace of MGs from Wheels on Walls. Lots of great racing prints available there to cover your garage with.
Finally, here’s a lovely history of the races, complete with several records and other race results.