To most people, ‘hill climbing’ is an activity involving Ordnance Survey maps, rainproof clothing, wellies and aching limbs. But to car lovers it’s a sport that involves driving quickly up a narrow asphalt hillside course, often little wider than the car itself!
Hill climbing has been part of British motorsport since the early days and many famous drivers, including Sir Stirling Moss, have competed on the hills. These days it’s a discipline mainly for amateurs, although three-time FIA World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx used it as his springboard.
How do Hill Climbs work?
Cars tackle a point-to-point uphill course one-by-one, with the quickest time dictating the winner. Competitors are given practice runs before the competition starts, and you’ll get two competitive run, with your best time counting in the final results. The good thing is that if you make a mistake first time out, you still have a chance of making amends on the second run.
How do I start?
First, go to some meetings and chat with the competitors, then join your local hill climb club.
You then need to apply to the MSA for your Non-Race National B Competition Licence, available to anyone aged 16 or above.
You should also have a look at the Hillclimb & Sprint Association. The HSA produces the magazine Speedscene, which is dedicated to Hill Climb and Sprint, its sister discipline. Another good reference is The Essential Manual of Hillclimbing & Sprinting, published by Veloce.
Many events are one-offs, so you can enter a variety of contests without committing to any championship. Beyond that there are numerous regional championships and at the pinnacle is the Avon Tyres MSA British Hill Climb Championship.
What kind of car do I need?
To start off with you can use your standard road car, which may require some minor safety modifications depending on the class you’ll be competing in.
Once you are more experienced you can look at moving up through the various classes and buying a modified Hill Climb car or even a specialist single-seater.
What equipment do I need?
Due to the high-speed nature of Hill Climbs you will need to buy some MSA-compliant safety gear such as a helmet, fireproof overalls, gloves and boots.