illclimbing in the United Kingdom is a jewel in international contemporary motorsport.
It’s not only because of the history around one of the early forms of motorsport but also because the rules haven’t really changed much in recent years.
Production cars road-going, production cars modified, single-seaters with engines up to 600cc, 1100cc, 1600cc, 2000cc and over twolitres, classics and a few in between has been the basis of an ever-quickening hillclimb scene since I went as a lad with my folks (quick hillclimbers themselves).
The F1 tech hand-me-down has always bled onto the hills with BRMS, Ford DFVS, Ford HBS and aerodynamics but, with the ever-tightening rules of F1, there are so many avenues now available to hillclimbers to utilise with aero and weight…but, there is no weight limit!
Jos Goodyear’s amazing run up Doune (1.9million Youtube views) with his 1340cc S/C Raptor was 340kg with him in it and it had 400bhp. Do the sums.
The proliferation of motorbike-engined cars has enabled the weight to tumble while carbonfibre tubs have without doubt saved lives on the hills making it a treasure trove of engineers’ creations.
Indeed, the Shelsley Special record holder is Nic Mann in his Mannic. It looks like a Mallock but it has a Ford Sierra 4x4 drivetrain, a 1700cc push rod that’s turbocharged by a helicopter turbine engine constantly blowing air into the turbo, resulting in 600bhp. The exhaust is blown into a rudimentary blown diffuser, but what’s great is that it’s all legal.
Competing on the hills is fantastic fun with great spirit within the classes too. It’s a cheap way to get into motorsport and no chance of any ill feeling if someone punts you off at the first corner…you only have yourself to blame.
I drove an Empire bike-engined car for a while and it was a huge thrill coming from something 30 per cent slower.
It gave me wonderful experience, taught me to drive a little quicker, was cheaper than some circuit cars (for horsepower per ton), made friends for life and as a bonus I held a record at Shelsley Walsh for a while, something I was very proud of.
Bill Chaplin and I have an Empire Wraith in the pipeline with a bike engine and Willem Toet aerodynamics that has more downforce than the car’s weight at 70mph. I can’t wait to be back at Shelsley Walsh to have another go.