TR Drivers Club Inaugural Bullet Run Event Recap

The TR Drivers Club hosted the Bullet Run on the weekend of 17th to 19th June to commemorate the passing of Standard-Triumph’s Chief Development Engineer, Tony Lee, who sadly died in September last year.  The famous TR7 prototype photos with Tony at Bwlch y Groes in Wales were the inspiration for this event and although these are the only known photos of Triumph development vehicles at the location it was a test route used regularly by management and senior staff.  Known at the Canley factory as “Ride & Drive” it was a fairly thorough test with up to 300 miles along varied roads that culminated at the scenic Bwlch y Groes location.  The TR Drivers Club organizers sought to reproduce the “Ride & Drive” route and invited owners of all Triumph models to take part.

The Bullet Run - Gordon Birtwistle Saturday evening interview 002
The Bullet Run – Gordon Birtwistle Saturday evening interview


The Bullet Run - Gordon Birtwistle Saturday evening interview 001
The Bullet Run – Tony Lee’s former High Speed Development Engineer, Gordon Birtwistle, in conversation with John Clancy.


The Bullet Run - Bwlch-Y-Groes Prototype image 001
The famous 1974 photo of Tony Lee (left) and John Lloyd, Director of Engineering (right).

The host hotel for the weekend was the exceptional Ettington Chase near Stratford-Upon-Avon and the cars left this primary starting point shortly after 9am on Saturday and headed on various cross country/motorway routes for the secondary start at Oswestry A5 Services where the second batch of Triumphs driven by the Lee family members awaited them.  Oswestry is the gateway from the busy motorway network of the Midlands to the scenic driving roads of Wales and then the real driving began. Thirty miles into the drive you are met by the fantastic views of Lake Vyrnwy at the base of Snowdonia National Park. Crossing the dam on the Eastern edge of Lake Vyrnwy the cars were guided into the car park of the Artisan Café where they were greeted by a plethora of Triumphs in the form of the TRDCs “Red Dragons” group.  Leaving the pleasant enclosure of the café the cars traversed the southern side of the lake towards the single track roads of Snowdonia National Park towards Bala. The sights and sounds of Triumphs made for some spectacular and unique photo opportunities.

The Bullet Run - Bwlch y Groes car park TR7 parking only 002
Bwlch y Groes car park TR7 parking only.
The Bullet Run - Bwlch y Groes car park TR7 parking only 001
The location of the famous 1974 photos but this time with a few more Triumph Wedges.
The Bullet Run - Bwlch y Groes 003
Illustrating the amazing sights.

Shortly before 7pm all the cars had arrived back at Ettington having covered over 200 miles.  Around 60 participants sat down for dinner before it was time to head into our private function rooms to enjoy some rare and never-before-seen historic Triumph films before the highlight of the evening when Gordon Birtwistle – Triumph’s High Speed Development Engineer – was interviewed.   Gordon took us through his 21 year career at Triumph which took in every model from the Herald to the Acclaim.  He worked for Tony Lee and the two became close friends so it was extremely fitting to welcome him as our guest speaker.  We were also delighted to be joined by many from Tony Lee’s family – his daughter Cate and son Kevin along with their spouses, children and grandchildren.  It was quite an occasion and in preparation a short video was shown of Tony being interviewed in 2008 when he detailed the reasons for the “Ride & Drive” days to Bwlch y Groes. This acted as an introduction for the talk with Gordon Birtwistle and can be seen on the TRDCs satellite web site at

Illustrating the amazing sights.
Illustrating the amazing sights.
The Bullet Run - Bwlch y Groes 001
Illustrating the amazing sights.
The Bullet Run - Midland Air Museum Triumphs
Midland Air Museum Triumphs.jpg – some of the cars lined up on the Sunday on the airfield of the Midland Air Museum.

The Sunday saw a shorter run to the Midland Air Museum where again we were met with additional Triumphs from the local area. Amongst the aircraft displays the cars paraded in line making a fantastic display of engineering achievements. The event was rounded off at midday with a closing speech thanking everyone for their participation in the first of a dedicated road event for Triumph enthusiasts.

The Bullet Run - Kevin Lee & Harry Lee
Tony Lee’s son Kevin (right) and his grandson Harry (left) sought to reproduce the famous photo of Tony Lee and John Lloyd at Bwlch y Groes.

The Bullet Run was a new type of event on the Triumph calendar and proved to provide its members with a product they had long waited for. The run itself was very well received, so much so that the TRDC is looking to organize another Bullet Run in an equally spectacular location next year along with a Bullet Rally in the autumn following in the footsteps of the classic RAC events of the 1970’s.  Dates for the 2017 Bullet Run and Bullet Rally will be announced at the Lancaster Insurance NEC Classic Car Show in November.

Issued by John Clancy on behalf of the TR Drivers Club, 22nd June 2016
Tel: 01579 346716