I’m keeping a close eye on this weekend’s weather forecast and the race calendars after having my appetite for watching motorsport re-whetted by last weekend’s lovely hillclimb at Shelsley Walsh.
If you’ve never been to Shelsley before – as I hadn’t – it’s well worth the visit. A few miles west of Worcester it’s a 1000 yard hillclimb nestled in what’s a distinctly pretty setting for a motorsport venue, tucked as it is into the Malvern hills. It has been used since 1905, making it the world’s oldest motorsport venue still in use.
There’s a cosy, relaxed atmosphere at Shelsley. Partly because of the type of punter, partly because of where it is; and, I wonder, if partly – given drivers compete against the clock, rather than each other – because there’s less latent testosterone around the place.
There are few venues where you’ll see such a diverse line-up of cars either. Competing at last weekend’s Stratstone Annual Festival were everything from the inevitable (and fast) hillclimb-special single seaters, to historic 500cc racers, classic Lotuses, a couple of Audi Sport Quattros; even a Lola T70.
I was kindly allowed a few runs up the hill in Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage race car, still sporting the flies it collected while winning its class at the Nurburgring 24-hour earlier in the year.
I’m not sure hillclimbing’s quite the racing medium for me. It takes me a long old while to get tuned-in to a circuit so having four runs, totalling barely more than two minutes, didn't play to my strengths. The fastest drivers (and I wasn’t one of them) can touch upwards of 150mph on the 12-foot wide track. It’s pretty awesome to watch.
The next round of the UK hillclimb championship is at Gurston Down in Wiltshire on 30 August. Maybe I’ll see you there.