After my first hill climb experience at Prescott Hill, I decided that I really liked the format and decided to attend another climb last weekend, this one at nearby Shelsley Walsh. This event, one of several held each year, was themed “F1 Through The Ages”. As you might expect, several retired F1 cars ran demonstrations and others were on display. They have been running hill climbs here since 1905!
The reason I took a liking to hill climbs is that they are “up close and personal events” with the action taking place only dozens of feet from the spectators and open pit areas for great viewing of all the cars. That said, this event couldn’t have been more different than Prescott Hill. That was a real race track, 30-40 feet wide and quite long. The Shelsley Walsh’ track is little more than a well paved country lane, in places less than 13 feet wide with the spectators literally at the edge of the track. I don’t know how the Brits get away with it, but spectator safety seems not to be a concern here! Most of the photos below were taken with a normal, not a telephoto, lens which shows you just how close I was to the action.
The course is only 1000 yards long, but features two straights and a big S curve, in addition to other curves, all run up a track that rises some 328 feet, and as I mentioned above, is VERY narrow with no run off sections. Drivers have to be very careful, though some reach 140 mph in the final straight. That said, there was only one off-course incident on Saturday, the Austin Healey 3000 painted in the Healey Rally colors and driven by Claire Giles (there were a fair number of women drivers). You can see Claire’s take off at the start line in the video to see how aggressive she was!
The one downside to hill climbs is well, the hill. The trackside path was a pretty steep trek over scree and some sketchy stone steps. As it had rained in the morning (yes finally rain), the hike up the hill was a bit treacherous, but I made it to the top. And was rewarded with a fine little pub up there, how very British.
I had a two-day ticket but stayed at a nice little resort hotel nearby and planned to play golf on Sunday. However, it really rained Sunday, pretty much all day, so no golf and I was glad I was not at the track. Since I saved my green fees, I treated myself to a relaxing morning at the spa and had a nice massage. That made for a laid-back, though wet, drive home.
You may notice a lot of Healeys in the photos and video, and that was because the Austin Healey Club of the UK was holding their HealeySport Speed Championship as part of the festivities. There were 12 Healeys in competition, including two Sprites, two Sebring Sprites (real?), a 100/4, two 100/6s, three 3000’s and Jensen Healey.
Speaking of videos, I finally got some software to allow me to splice together the 10 second shots my still camera takes into something meaningful. Hope you enjoy. I took some video with my GoPro at Silverstone but was less than impressed with the results. All the action looks so far away with that camera, so maybe I have more to learn. Watch the video below
Shelsley Walsh is in the area of the Malvern Hills AONB (Area of Natural Beauty), you can see some of the lovely countryside in the pix. This is where the recent XK70 celebration was held (in honor of the 70th Anniversary of the Jaguar XK series) and they did offer opportunities to take your car up the hill. I am not sure if Creighton Turner, who borrowed my Jag while I was in Europe with the Healey crew, did the hill, but if he did, he probably won’t admit to it anyway. The tires still have tread.
Next up is Jaguar National Day at Woburn Abbey this weekend. They offered an overnight package with dinner, so I took it. When I got my dinner ticket it said, “Dress Code: Black Tie or Lounge Suit”. Since I failed to bring my tux to England (what was I thinking?), I had to find out what the heck a “lounge suit” is. My landlady kindly informed me it is sort of a business suit worn without tie. No luck there either, so If they won’t let me in with a sports coat and a pair of slacks, I guess I will eat in the bar!
Next Tuesday I am off to Ireland for 12 days. Mostly the Wild Atlantic Way along the southwestern side, but also some time in Galway and Dublin. Hope to get some good pix and video there but watching the weather channel it seems that every day is a rainy day in that part of Ireland.
YES, VERY NARROW, DO YOU KNOW HOW SMALL THIS LITTLE RACER IS, NOT MORE THE 4″ WIDE
THIS IS NOT A TELEPHOTO LENS SHOT!
THIS IS REALLY UP HILL. THE CAMERA ANGLE HERE IS FLAT
THE TRIUMPH CLUB WAS HOLDING “TRIUMPHFEST” IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE HILL CLIMB, SO LOTS OF TRIUMPHS IN THE CLUB PARKING LOT.
NICE D TYPE JAG, BUT NOT VERY COMPETITIVE ON THIS SHORT, CURVY COURSE, THESE WERE MADE FOR HIGH SPEEDS ON GRAND PRIX COURSES, WITH BIG DISC BRAKES FOR THE CORNERS AT THE END OF THE STRAIGHTS
IMAGINE RUNNING AT SPEED ON THOSE TIRES, NOT 3″ WIDE!
GETTING READY FOR THE GOODWOOD REVIVAL
BIKES TOO, I REALLY WANT A 60’S TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE!
THE ONE THAT FINISHED IN THE HAY BALES