The story so far........
Formed from humble origins as a motoring part of the then Steel Company of Wales social club in the early ‘sixties, and becoming Port Talbot Motor Club in 1965, PTMC has gone from strength to strength, changing greatly along the motorsporting milestones, but retaining what has proved to be a successful formula, and prospering for over fifty years , in a motorsporting world where many other local clubs have sadly disappeared.
Although PTMC has strived – and seems to have succeeded – to keep ahead of trends in the sport, it also enjoyed remarkable stability, based at the home it adopted in the far off nineteen sixties, the Tudor Inn (formerly the Cae-Rhys-Ddu Country Club) in Neath for over forty years. Although the old place had undergone several changes of owner, the “Tudor” always proved a welcoming home for the motor club, and thus any members from its formative years that might wander back knew exactly where to go ! Sadly time and tide marches inexorably on, and in 2007 the club home was sold for redevelopment, meaning new premises were dictated, and the club has now moved to Tonna RFC, just outside the town of Neath.
Not only the locality endures, for amongst the formative members were many who went on to become stalwarts of both club and motorsport in general, and remain to this day, guiding the club to continued success. Lyn Jenkins – champion co-driver and former President of the club – competed and organised at every level, going on – as have other members in various ways - to play a major part in co-ordinating Wales Rally GB, as well as continuing to steer PTMC along the right roads. Lyn also oversaw the start of PTMC’s foray into the National Rally Championship, the Castrol-Autosport series that developed into the respected and successful ANCRO National Championship, the PTMC round becoming the longest running event in the series, that finally ended in 2010. The “Swansea Bay” rally continues however, now in the Welsh Championship and ably overseen by Alan Stoneman. Many “stars” were helped on their way on the rally, winners including David Llewellyn, Louise Aitken-Walker, Mark Lovell, George Donaldson and Graham Middleton to name but a few.
PTMC has had two other events in National Championships, indeed is believed to be the only club in the country with the long lasting distinction of three National Championship rounds. The National Tour of Epynt and the Red Dragon National Rally were the other two PTMC events that attracted premier championships , both events overseen by capable organisers and competitors in their day. The Red Dragon has disappeared from the current PTMC schedule, Baryan Joseph (current PTMC Chairman) continuing to steer the Epynt event to success, now a round of the REIS Get Connected MSA National Asphalt Championship, and others.
Keeping a close administrative eye on all three rallies, and the affairs of the motor club for so many years – until his untimely and sad death in late 2006 - was David Williams or "DWW" as he was affectionately known. David took over the role of club secretary in 1972, and there was not much that he did not know about the sport, becoming an MSA Timekeeper and Steward, a member of the Motorsports Council, and also playing a major role in the Welsh Association of Motor Clubs for many years, becoming a respected WAMC Chairman. David died peacefully and unexpectedly at home, following seemingly successful heart surgery earlier in the year, and his passing left a massive gap in PTMC life, but equally his life with the club left a great legacy, and many happy memories for the club, his many friends within it, and of course in the wider world of the sport that he loved. Brent Oatway has taken over the role as PTMC Secretary, with enthusiasm and commitment, continuing to ensure that the motor club is properly administered and standards maintained.
The motor club has had many champions, behind the wheel and on the maps, with the Red Dragon Rally one of the original events in the famed “Motoring News” road rally championship, but moved successfully on to the forest stages, for many years. The event no longer runs, but could be returned if circumstances were right. PTMC had a superb base in the early days of road rallying, its “Novices” rally also the introduction to the sport for so many, and recruiting a host of new members. Sadly those days have gone, stage rallying now dominant for PTMC, though it retains both experienced – spelt older ! – competitors and attracts the enthusiastic young competitors, a good sign for a continued long life in the sport.
With regular weekly Thursday clubnights, a keen competitive streak combined with a social awareness in the communities around it, and a good relationship with fellow clubs in Wales and England, things continue to look good for PTMC, though it is not complacent. Members officiate on many events at home and abroad, at every level, from clubman to World Championship, and although there are no longer the huge numbers of competing members (PTMC won the Welsh Championship for nine consecutive years !) the club remains at the forefront of motorsport.
The club magazine “Exhaust Notes” also appeared in PTMC’s early days, and has been edited by surprisingly few “scribblers” to the present day, though the most noted was the late Geraint Phillips, a former “Verglas” at Motoring News who became something of a legend in rallying circles, but never forgot his Welsh – or PTMC – roots. For many subsequent years the magazine has distracted Roger Gale, the club Press Officer, who was one of those rally drivers (and co-driver) that – by his own free admission – has experienced that symptom of “the older I get the faster I was !”, and who – after making a comeback at real speed in the Welsh Stage Championship - with fellow member Tony “OTT” Thomas in a 2.3 BDX Darrian experienced a good way to finally bow out ! Along the way he too has worked in the WRC and Formula 1, and European classic motorsport, thanks to humble (though never ever to be forgotten) beginnings doing reports for RallySport magazine. Another Motoring News staff reporter from PTMC was Ednyfed Morgan, himself a very successful champion and International co-driver, but now engaged as the astute PTMC Treasurer – trust a co-driver to be good at counting!
In short PTMC has entered the new era of motorsport in this new millennium with a proud history and a determination to continue to do itself proud. Too many names to list here have played vital roles in making the club what it became and remains, but the determination to remain innovative – it was the club that introduced stage rallying to Epynt in 1966 for instance – is alive and well.
The “golden years” saw many club greats, Colin Malkin, Bob Fowden, John Price, Hywel Thomas – who also oversaw many PTMC ventures into classic rallying, testing his peers such as Colin Francis, and attracting stars such as Jaguar XK150 man Christopher Cazenove, and F1 designer Adrian Newey in his Jaguar SS, these events raising thousands of pounds for charity -, Alun Rees, Derek Tucker, Russell Brookes, and even a visiting Ari Vatanen in his early days in British motorsport, so the club bar had a lively heritage…those that remain have every intention of keeping it alive, and although members now have a new bar to lean on whilst swapping tales of motorsporting exploits, a long successful tradition and motorclub lives on into a new era and – no doubt - beyond!
Port Talbot Motor Club Press Officer.