Gurston Down Hillclimb – Great Action, Iffy Weather…

August Bank Holiday weekend and a change of venue for me and my fellow event trader Elinor of HERGEST HANDBAGS.  At the invite of the organising club and deputy clerk of the course Dave Wickham , we enjoyed a trip to Gurston Down in Wiltshire which hosted the latest rounds of the British Hillclimb Championship. Despite some unsettled weather and a strong wind that never gave up , it was a cracking event with some very close competition.

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Gurston is ‘different’; the top class cars are lined up in a large farmyard among assorted agricultural buildings and equipment (right – Oliver Tomlin’s Pilbeam) , it has a steeply downhill start and when the course goes sharply uphill there’s a brow where the fastest cars get airbourne .  Speeds are similar to Shelsley Walsh; Wallace Menzies in the Cosworth XD Powered DJ Firehawk clocked over 150 across the finish line, but unlike the famous Worcestershire hill it’s quite open and doesn’t have the menacingly close banks and hedges .

 

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Our trade stands were located right by the tyre-warming area before the start line (if you havn’t seen hillclimbing before there’s a short stretch of track where you can warm up your tyres with a big dose of wheelspin ) and my stall is visible (left)  with the blue roof as Deryk Young lines up his Gould V8 prior to a run. There is also  an excellent illuminated timing display right by the start giving times, splits and  speed trap readings.  Team members and drivers tended to hang about near this point keeping an eye on the progress of the opposition and it was buzzing during the top-ten run offs where the championship points are earned.

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Not far fron the start is the first speed trap. The quickest car  (Menzies’ DJ, right) was reaching this point from a standing start in around 5 seconds at 137 mph. I wonder how that compares to a current F1 car?

Of course it’s not just big fast single seaters – there were classes for all kinds of car including a Ford 3 window coupe that looked as if it should be running moonshine in South Carolina (below) and all manner of smaller engined racing cars (right) and sports cars plus a smattering of historics.

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Unlike Prescott or Shelsley everyone got three practice runs on Saturday, instead of two (and that was done with by 4pm) and another on Sunday morning. Seemed like good value for money.

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After Saturday’s running was concluded there was a superb live band AUSTIN ALLEGRO & THE MORRIS MARINAS , performing outside the restaurant bar. The drummer in particular being quite brilliant but his place was taken right at the end by driver Alex Summers who did as good a job with

the drumsticks as he was to do at the wheel of his DJ Firehawk the following day (class winner yet again).

The two championship run off’s both fell to the smooth and unruffled Scotty Moran(lower left)  – already a triple

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champion – who’s 3.5 litre Nicholson-McLaren powered Gould bested Wallace Menzies best efforts by 0.6 second in the first  but just .07 in the second. The third place car was Summers  in both cases and 4th was reigning champion Trevor Willis (centre left) suffering from havng a less powerfull V8 in the OMS 28 than sported by his two main title rivals.

Alistair Crawford (lower left) was a notable 6th – equalling his best previous result in the first runs and 8th in the second, helping his points haul no end as the season reaches it’s final stages.

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I started packing away fairly early on Sunday in deference to my suspected fractured finger, sustained in a hammer-tentpeg incident while setting up the stall last weekend at Shelsley Walsh . It takes a while to

dis-assemble a 20×10 foot marquee in a high wind when you don’t have a full compliment of functioning fingers! My thanks to Elinor for helping out at the point when the marquee

roof looked set to become a kite….

One unscheduled highlight was Saturday afternoon’s low flypast by the Avro Lancaster and a lone Hurricane which were most probably on route for a display at BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans’ nearby CARFEST event, held at the farm owned by ex F1 world champion driver Jody Scheckter.

Gurston is highly recommended as a spectator venue. It’s freindly , well organised, has an atmospheric paddock,  a variety of viewing points , good commentary, excellent timing display boards and good beer in the bar!

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