|Motorsports 101: Hillclimb|
Well over a century ago, on the southern coast of France, in a place called La Turbie (just outside of Nice), one man said to another man ‘There’s a nice bit of road. I bet I could drive to the other end of it quicker than you could.’
And Hillclimbing was born.
Hillclimbing is one of the oldest and least complicated motorsports there is. It’s also one of the most thrilling, probably because of the simplicity; all you need is a steep hill with a windy road running up it, a bunch of fast cars and someone who can work a stop watch. There’s nothing more to it than that.
The novelty of belting a car up what is normally a public road as fast as your bravery will allow has not worn off over the last century, rather it seems to be ever increasing. It attracts all types of cars and drivers and it wouldn’t be unusual to see a 19 year old clutching the keys to his mums hatchback and a borrowed racing helmet lining up after a Group N rally special or a historic Grand Prix car.
The video below shows a Le Mans car flying up a hill somewhere in France, and no, it’s not in fast forward.
The Annual Pikes Peak International Hillclimb in Colorado, USA, is probably the most famous of all. Established in 1916 and run almost every year since, it regularly attracts over 100 competitors and tens of thousands of spectators. At almost 20km in length, climbing to a height of 4300m on a mixture of sealed and gravel roads, it’s also one of the most challenging and exciting Hillclimbs to watch. The short film ‘Climb Dance’ highlights Ari Vatanen's spectacular ascent in the 1988 event, and should be compulsory viewing for anyone interested in driving.