Prescott Hill Climb, near Cheltenham, is the oldest ongoing hill climb in the world with Rob Roy the oldest one in the southern hemisphere, so it seems appropriate they are now “twinned”. The idea of a Challenge between the two came about after visits between the two, with Joy Rainey and John Passmore visiting the MG Club, the Bugatti Owners’ Club and Morgan executives working with MGCC to make it all happen, and hopefully make it a bi-annual event.
The hill climb is 880 yards long and owned by the Bugatti Owners’ Club since 1937. It is set in idyllic countryside with beautiful views of the rolling hills and fields of the Cotswalds. The Club Rooms are the best Car Club facility I’ve seen, with a huge deck and wonderful views. Full bar service and hot and cold meals can be had all day.
Five members of the Gippsland Sporting and Classic Car Register, with three members of the MG Car Club Vic, competed on the final weekend of June at the prestigious Prescott Hill Climb run by the Bugatti Owners’ Club. It was billed as Aussies from Rob Roy vs the Brits from Prescott…. But the whole emphasis was on enjoying hill climbing as a sport and cementing relations between Australian and British drivers.
Six Aussies vs Six Brits.
Drivers from GSCC Register were: Rodger Chapman, Jane Vollebregt, Frank Oostemeier, with Lorna Chapman and Dave Anderson as reserve drivers.
MGCC Vic drivers: Doug Morrissey (Team Captain), Ken Price and Rod Cooper.
Dave Anderson was asked to drive for the Brit Team (10 minutes before drivers’ briefing) as they ended up one man short and he was at hand. We forgave his defection as it was all in the name of FUN!!
Two cars, three drivers from each team of six to be allocated to each vehicle, both being + 4 Morgans, one a race prepared? 2 litre super sport roadster (well it did have race tyres, not hill climb tyres) and the other, a 145 hp absolutely standard roadster with road tyres.
Points awarded for each car group: 1st 10 points, 2nd 8 points, 3rd 7 points, 4th 5 points, 5th 4 points and 6th 3 points.
Failure to finish 0 points
Damage to car -10 points
Spin -5 points
Stuck in gravel trap -5 points
Suffice to say the British Team beat us. Two offs by the Australian Team (not Sporting Register members) didn’t help. However, in our defence, we were rather handicapped: We only sat in the cars for the first time 100m before the start line, never having driven the car before and only walking the track. To say that a Morgan is different to drive would be an understatement: You virtually sit in front of the back axle, and sitting very low all I could see was this great expanse of bonnet stretching off into the distance. As for the brake/clutch/throttle set up …… how weird was that!?? Brake and clutch on same level, but the accelerator way down near the floor and only a tiny little button of a thing at that. So it was a matter of taking your foot off the brake and trying to locate the throttle ….. so decided to keep it simple: keep off the brake and do the course in second gear – as it was also hard to change back from third to second gear.
The best thing for me was that I had been given a drive in the “race prepared” car, as I believed the other was a little difficult to handle – to say the least. My aim for the weekend was to get a respectable time, under 1 minute, and to stay on the black stuff. Having achieved both I was thrilled to have just been included in the team to compete at the famous Prescott Hill Climb track.
When the British Team come down to continue the Challenge we will have to pull out all stops to entertain them: We were looked after so well, with British food the first night at a local Inn, the next night was at the very salubrious Prescott Club Rooms with Australian food and entertainment by a wonderful didgeridoo player! We were also given special treatment at the track with our own double marque located close to start line and were able to sit in the car under cover, ready to go, and not have to queue up with the rest outside in the hot sun. Yes it did get warm on the Sunday (about 28 and sunny) and it was gorgeous weather for the whole weekend.
What an experience – it has certainly whetted the appetite for more overseas competitions. Where can I garage an MGB in England to be at the ready when I next visit?
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