Back in 2006 I drove my first hillclimb at Loton Park in Shropshire, behind the wheel of a Peugeot 205. I was 24 and just out of university – after so many years of watching motorsport I was desperate to try it myself. I’d grown up going racing with a school friend & his dad, and I loved the atmosphere, the buzz & ambiance of the paddock, and ultimately the idea of one day driving my own race car. So that’s the short story of how I found my way into hilllclimbing, a very accessible form of motorsport where drivers compete one at a time against the clock to set the quickest time on a tarmac course.
In the UK these courses are pretty short, typically 1,000 yards or more and over in less than a minute. The classes start with road cars (often driven to the events) and move right the way up into single seat racecars with huge power to weight ratios, vital for propelling them out of the twists & turns and up the gradients encountered – hence ‘hillclimb’
I loved it and cut my teeth over an 8 year period, moving into a Westfield SEiW to get the hang of rear wheel drive. But the truth is that long ago, before I even sat in a race car, I’d watched videos of hillclimbing in Europe on YouTube… Here the courses were on closed public roads, often up to 6km or more in the case of Italy (Trento Bondone – 17km!), the speeds were higher, the cars had no siliencing, and there were 1,000’s of spectators. It looked mega.
So this was always my dream, and I accepted that this was all it could ever be, until I ventured to France in 2014 to compete at a round of the Championnat de France de la Montagne. What happened that weekend changed everything…