The Exeter Trial

Update 9 December 2020:

With regret, we announce the decision has been made to cancel the 92nd Exeter Trial. Read the full details from the Clerk of the Course here.
The next Exeter Trial is planned to take place on 7 and 8 January 2022.

How to enter

Update: Entries for the main Exeter Trial are now closed. The reserve list closes on 24th December and entries for class R are now extended to invited clubs.

Read the invitation to enter and event regulations.

Car competitors

Log into the MCC online entry system and check that your personal profile is up to date.

Next, select the ‘Events’ drop down menu from the black navigation bar at the top, then ‘Events Calendar’. Select your chosen starting point and class.

(There is a limit of 30 cars starting from Tiverton in the main trial.)

Motorcycle competitors

If you are a motorcyclist, you need to renew your ACU trials registration for 1st January. To do this, you’ll need your unique club code, available on your personal profile page in the online entry system.

Three wheeled competitors

Special ACU requirements apply to sidecar crews, who must be from the same residence. Passengers also need an ACU trials registration card.

Help with entering online

The organising team appreciates that some members do not have the technology to enter The Exeter Trial online. We do not want this to be a barrier to participating, so please do ask friends and family members for help and support, or contact Mark Wills on 07972 875687 or Keith Johnston on 07836 376107.

Preparing for the event

Before Christmas you will receive your waterproof number cards by post and a link to an online version of the programme. There will be no Control Cards.

A week before the trial you will receive a reminder to revisit your personal profile page in the online entry system. You will need to:

  • complete your online scrutineering declaration
  • upload your licence details
  • read the event COVID19 Risk Assessment
  • complete an online health declaration

Once you have completed these actions and consents, you will be able to download the route details.

The health declaration is particularly important for motorcycle competitors, who must be physically able to pick up their fallen machine themselves.

Competitors need to carry hand sanitiser, disposable gloves and face coverings. Car drivers and their passengers are expected to wear face coverings in their vehicles if they are not from the same household. This is a Motor Sport UK requirement.

Starting the trial

Competitors must arrive at their start venue no earlier than five minutes before their start time.

After arriving at your chosen start venue, wait in the holding area before being summoned to the designated start area.


A marshal will conduct a visual scrutineering check that complies with Motor Sport UK guidance.

On motorcycles, competition numbers and working lights will be checked.

On cars, a visual check will be carried out of:

  • working lights
  • windscreen wipers
  • a tow rope attachment
  • a spill kit
  • the upright presentation of 4 competition numbers

Once complete, the start marshal (located in their vehicle) will signal for you to leave and record your departure time electronically. ‘Signing on’ is therefore virtual by proxy.

There is no technical scrutineering at Haynes. Competitors are expected to be scrupulously honest in vehicle declarations and observe the MCC Members Code of Conduct. Complaints regarding alleged technical infringements will be investigated by the Clerk of the Course and could result in penalty.

During the event

Running intervals

The running interval time of all competitors will be two minutes. This means that Standard Time will be 19.30 and the first competitor will leave at 19.32 and so on.

Running competitors at two minute rather than one minute intervals will help manage social distancing at sections and controls.

The time allowance between sections and controls is generous. Competitors are asked to ensure that they do not run ahead of their own standard time.

Haynes International Motor Museum

Special arrangements apply at Haynes to manage arrival, departure and competitor parking.

There may well be a penalty for early arrival at Haynes.

Subject to Government regulations, we hope that the restaurant will be open for socially distanced competitor use, together with a rest room for open car and motorcycle competitors.

These arrangements will be advised in due course.

No spectators are permitted at Haynes.


Only R class competitors have a time control at Musbury, operated in the same way as their start control.

Petrol is available at Musbury. Competitors are asked to use their discretion to avoid long queues at the garage.

Spectators and support crews

Spectators and support crews are discouraged from all public parts of the course and excluded from private land and venues. The only people permitted at sections and tests are competitors and authorised officials.

Finishing at Crealy

The finish is located at the car park of Crealy Theme Park and Resort.

A virtual control with two finish areas marked out in the car park will be waiting for Main Trial and R class finishers. When arriving, competitors should park in the designated area. Your finish time will be recorded electronically by the finish marshal. This marks your virtual signing off.

Once acknowledged by the finish marshal, remove your competitor numbers and take them away, leaving Crealy immediately.

Toilet facilities are available, but no breakfast facilities.


Before Christmas, marshals will be issued with a face mask, disposable gloves and hand sanitiser.

In addition, one marshal per section will be identified as an Incident Marshal. They will be additionally given a face shield and fireman’s gauntlets. Other PPE will be issued as advised.

There will be a maximum of six marshals on each section or test. Three radios in sealed bags will be issued to each Section Chief to use as they wish, well in advance of the event.

Line of sight through the section will be critical and the number of Observer Cards/Restart Observer Book in use above that of the Start Marshal should be minimised.

Marshals are instructed not to intervene with fallen motorcycles unless the rider is trapped. The Incident Marshal will give assistance with their additional PPE. They will also help manage stranded cars. Normally a stopped car competitor will be instructed to reverse to the foot of the section unless a tow is available.

The Chief Marshal will identify a member of the team to collate the performances on their section and transfer into a spreadsheet. At the end of the trial the completed observer cards should be scanned or photographed and emailed to the Section collator. Observer cards should be retained by the Marshal pending any queries and then destroyed after a period of 3 months. The spreadsheet from each section/test will be emailed to the Results Co-ordinator.

Travelling marshals

Travelling Marshals play an important role in helping our events run smoothly, reporting any time delays and monitoring any behaviour that might reflect poorly upon the MCC’s reputation in the eyes of the public.

For Exeter 2021, running to time, respecting the communities which we travel through and observing social distancing at sections and controls is of paramount importance. Travelling marshals are asked to help ensure the event runs smoothly, to time and to remind competitors to observe social distancing, especially at sections and controls. In exceptional circumstances travelling marshals may report serious breaches, which will be investigated by the Clerk of the Course.

History of the event

The youngest of the club's 'Big Three', this started in 1910 when the MCC broke new ground by introducing the 'London to Exeter and Back Winter Club Run' on Boxing Day, when saner folk might be expected to be enjoying the warmth of the festive season with their families. To prove MCC members were, and still are, a race apart the event generated 81 entries on two, three and four wheels while within three years a dizzy 231 faced the starter. This was a no nonsense trial starting in the evening and finishing back at the same place the following afternoon during which nearly 500 miles had to be travelled at a predetermined average speed on indifferent roads through the worst of the winter weather, and it is perhaps this very feature which has always made this one so popular.

By 1913 improving roads led to the introduction of Chard and Trow Hills, which had to be taken non stop under observation, and this trend continued when hostilities resumed in 1920 with increasingly more 'set piece' hills in the route. Unlike the Lands End Trial it was not until the Thirties that hills still in use, Fingle Bridge ('32) and Simms ('33) appeared on the scene while surprisingly it was not until 1935 that the event officially became known as The Exeter Trial.

Whatever the name, the event had already become popular, with record entries and a course which was really difficult. In the opinion of some members it was becoming too difficult and the wisdom of including Simms was queried after 1933, when it stopped all but 18 cars, so by the end of the decade it had become an optional hill with a special award for those who conquered it.

View an original guide to the Exeter Trial from the 1939 Motorcycle report here.

Simms Hill, at the 2014 Exeter Trial

Tillerton & Fingle from the 2015 Exeter Trial