A roaring success for the 2017 edition of the Chateau Impney Hill Climb
Roaring engines were heard across the rolling hills of Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire on the weekend of 8-9 July for one of the most highly-anticipated events in the world of historic motorsport – the annual Chateau Impney Hill Climb. Set in the picturesque grounds of the stunning Grade II listed Chateau, the event attracted cars and their racers from 1909 to 1967, but, before we talk about this year’s event lets uncover the history and premise of the iconic event.
The Chateau Impney Hill Climb is an against-the-clock event which sees classic cars compete for the fastest time of the day. The event was inaugurated in 1957 and for the next ten years the Hill Climb flourished, bringing competitors and their cars from all over the country, to the grounds of the French-inspired chateau. Unfortunately, the Hill Climb began to lose its spark and it was announced that the 1967 meet would be the last.
In 2015 however, after a 48-year hiatus, the Spollon family chose to bring back the event – a huge feat but one that has turned out to be a huge success. By invite-only, more than 200 competitors helped resurrect the event and compete in the two-day sprint.
With 2015 hailed as a great success and attended by nearly 10,000 people, it was clear the event had once again firmly cemented itself as one of the greatest events on the historic motorsport calendar.
This year’s event was a double celebration, marking 60 years since the first ever Hill Climb at the chateau as well as 50 years since the Hill Climb came to an end. The course, which is arguably one of the most challenging in the country, has nearly doubled in size since the 1960s, stretching over 1,000 yards with the chateau itself taking pride of place in the heart of the course.
Kick-starting with practice runs on Saturday 8 July, competitors from the UK and beyond, gathered on what turned out to be a scorching day. With the event split across 18 classes, a vast range of classic motors from the high-speed racing cars of the late 1960’s to the historic Edwardian and veteran cars from the early 1900’s – a class which always promises entertainment.
As well as the classic cars competing, there were also demonstration runs from the likes of the first UK owned Bugatti Chiron, the Ferrari Enzo and Brooklands Bikes as well as the 2004 Morgan Le Mans entrant and the infamous Group B rally cars, including three Audi Quattro’s. Attentions turned from track to sky during lunchtime on Saturday and Sunday with an RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The most iconic bomber of WW2, The Lancaster Bomber took everyone’s breath away as it rippled through the sky.
Another feature of the weekend was the Maserati Celebration which was in commemoration of 60 years since the Maserati factory retired from racing. To showcase this there were twelve Maserati’s on the line-up, including the Cooper Monaco Maserati, the Maserati ‘Birdcage’ T61 and two 250F’s. Michael O’shea was awarded the bragging rights with the ‘Maserati Award’ for the fastest ascent by a Maserati.
The Saturday drew to a close with competitors and their guests swapping their race suits for dinner suits to enjoy a fantastic dinner which took place in the Chateau’s Broadway Suite located inside the Regent Centre. The evening, which started with a drinks reception in the warm evening air, saw hundreds of exclusive guests dine of a three-course dinner before settling down for some fantastic entertainment.
The entertainment, which was provided by leading East Midlands-based brand agency and one of the Hill Climb’s sponsors, Champions (UK) plc, came in the form of magician and mind reader – Graham Jolley. An international star in his own right, Graham stunned and fooled the audience for a memorable 30-minute set adding a truly sensational touch to the evening. Champions supply regular entertainment to Chateau Impney and after forming a great relationship with the establishment, were thrilled to attend Saturday’s event and support the world-renowned event.
With practise over, Sunday saw the cars take to the track once again, but this time their times mattered, with each driver going full throttle around the course to try and come out top of their class.
After a full day of racing, the weekend ended in front of the chateau with the presentation of the awards. The most anticipated award of the weekend was the ‘Ken Wharton Memorial Trophy’ which was donated by the Hagley & Light District Car Club and is presented to the driver with the Fastest Time of the Day. This year the award went to Jack Woodhouse in his 1961 Lotus 20/22. This is the second year Jack took home the trophy after winning in 2015 too.
Fun for all the family, the event also played host to a fairground, food courts selling tempting treats and exhibits including a Land Rover experience.
Such a huge event on the historic motorsport calendar, a vast amount of time goes into the planning of the prestigious Chateau Impney Hill Climb and while the Chateau packs away the remnants of the weekend, plans will shortly commence for the 2018 edition of the event.