The first Chateau Impney Hill Climb took place on the 12th July 2015 in the grounds of the Chateau Impney hotel, at Droitwich in Worcestershire. The venue has not been used for motorsport for nearly 50 years. Between 1957 and 1967 the venue staged a sprint organised by the Hagley & District Light Car Club over a 500 yard section of the hotel drive. The new course has been increased to 1000 yards and has enough difference in altitude between the start and finish to now be classified as a hill climb. It is an interesting course starting just inside the hotel grounds. The start line is at one end of a narrow bridge over a small river, which the cars negotiate from a standing start. After a short straight the cars take the 2nd left tun up the first incline through the trees towards the front of the Chateau where they take a fairly fast left hand corner and pass right in front og the majestic hotel building. The track sweeps right, round the side of the hotel nd the drivers have a tight round bout to swing round turning right and up the second incline at the side of the hotel. There is a tight right, left chicane before the cars take a sweeping left hand bend between the straw bales before crossing the finishing line and heading back to the paddock via a rear return road.
A crowd of almost 10,000 people enjoyed this first weekend of motorsport, with grandstands in specific locations and large screen television screens showing the action from all around the track. The open paddock allowed everyone to get close to the 200 competing cars, none build after 1967, and there was also a concours competition and a classic car auction all located with in the hotel grounds.
The star of the show as far as the public were concerned was Duncan Pittway in his rebuilt 1911 Fiat S76, known as the beast of Turin. This 28.5 litre 4 cylinder fire breathing monster sounded like a tractor and shot flames at least a foot long out of the exhaust vents on the left side of the massive engine cover. It was originally designed to beat the land speed record in a straight line, but managed to get round the course without too many problems.
The organisers had managed to bring together at least nine ERA grand prix cars, all pre 1940, all of which proved a spectacular sight being thrown around by their enthusiastic drivers. Unfortunately one of them ERA R3A failed to start the actual competition when Barry Whizzo Williams suffered a transmission failure during practice, and the team were unable to repair the car for the timed competition.
As well as the vintage cars, there were a selection of saloons and sports cars from the 1950s and 60s similar to those that competed in the original sprint events including Mini Coopers, Lotus Elan's and Mk 1 Ford Cortina's.
The winner was hill climb new comer, 25 year old local driver Jack Woodhouse driving a Lotus 20/22. He set the fastest time of day with a time of 42.42 seconds on his second run after a heavy shower on Sunday morning made the track a little difficult for some of the competitors during their first timed runs of the day. The shower didn’t last long and the track soon dried out in the glorious sunshine during the afternoon.
© Simon & Janet Wright.