"Of all the races I did in my life, Aberdare Park was probably the one that had the most effect on me. For the first time I was no longer just a mechanic who rode a bike. The bike and I became one. We spoke to each other, we were exchanging messages through the seat of my pants. I realized that’s what you need to get the best from a piece of machinery. It shaped the mould for the rest of my racing career." John Surtees (4 time motorcycle World Champion and Formula 1 World Champion 1964
VIDEO - THE EARLY YEARS OF THE ABERDARE PARK ROAD RACES
Many years ago, a passionate group set up the Aberaman and district light motor vehicle and motorcycle club.
The sole intention was to become a chat group who once a week could share their life’s dreams of being able to race a vehicle on a track where locals and visitors to the town of Aberdare could come and spectate.
However, for some, the parkland roads seemed almost perfect for high-octane thrills and the temptation proved too hard to resist. From around 1948 a number of illicit and highly illegal late night races took place, but instead of cracking down hard on those responsible, the local authorities took the rather bolder decision to sanction proper organised events instead.
So it was that on 30 September 1950, the first Aberdare Park Road Race took place on the short but tricky 0.9 miles course. The event quickly grew in stature, such that in 1951 two meetings were held, the first on Whitsun Saturday (12 May) and the second on 28 July. By the following year, the race had gained national event status and attracted a record 170 entries. What made the races popular with riders? Though short, the circuit is fast and demanding, with little room for manoeuvre and even less for error. The circuit itself is considered by some of the all time greats to rank amongst the best circuits in the world.
Word soon spread of the spectacle and on a fog bound race day June 18th 1955 the BBC sent a crew of cameramen to the circuit to televise the event, this now meant the park races became the first ever live televised motorcycle road race in the British Isles.
Racing continued throughout the 1950s and into the early 1960s, before coming to an abrupt halt following the 1964 races. There was in fact a 14-year gap before racing was once again resumed, once again under the gaze of the BBC cameras, who had come to record highlights of the June 1978 event for later broadcast on its Sunday Sport programme.
To this end the event has managed to attract some of the best road racers in world, John Surtees, John Cooper, Malcolm Uphill, Neil Tuxwoth, Mike Hailwood, and in more recent years, King of the mountain John McGuinness, TT winner Steve Plater, Ian Lougher and Dan Cooper to name but a few .
1988 saw a young Carl Fogarty smash the lap of 45.2 seconds down to 42.5 seconds. As technology moves forward the record edges ever closer towards 38 seconds.
Within a short period of time the reputation grew and soon on a regular basis crowds of some 15000 people were drawn to a Victorian park complete with an historic road circuit accredited with the prestigious ACU national status a tremendous boost to tourism in Wales and local businesses.
Many changes being made over the coming years have seen the park outlive other prestigious events, 2018 and 2019 saw the National Road Race at Aberdare Park become the only Road Race on U.K. mainland. During the race weekend of 2010 the circuit was paid a visit by top gear magazine and as a result of a survey was voted as number 6 in the top ten race tracks in the world.
As the event continues to grow in stature, and technology moves forward the prestigious Welsh Open will attract racers looking to bag the title and to be entered into the Aberdare hall of fame.