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GREAT CARS & GREAT TIMING - Back at Prescott Hillclimb

GREAT CARS & GREAT TIMING  - Back at Prescott Hillclimb

It was four years since we were last at Prescott hillclimb with the bookstall. Covid lockdowns and other lesser hurdles got in the way of an earlier return. But finally , this spring, we were back…well here I was, as my faithful assistant of recent years, eldest daughter Charlotte, now has a job in a local hostelry and couldn't spare the time -and my new apprentice, youngest daughter  Georgie is tied up with GCSEs and theatre rehearsals for a show in London's West End at the moment… so the timing in this case wasn't quite ideal! But that's life. At the time of writing I have done three events and if it's been hard work, it's also been good fun and very positive.  

The first event was the British Hillclimb Championship round so the paddock was crammed with the latest and  fastest machinery and all the top drivers. But I arrived very early on the Saturday morning in the middle of a pea-soup fog! It did look eerily pretty and we have had event delayed in the past through lack of visibility….

 But the sun started to burn through as the first  Marshals on their way into the club house for a full English breakfast. Many of them smiled and said “hello , your back then?” - it was a weekend of seeing familiar friendly faces, most of whom I last saw in 2019. It was also a weekend to remember a few that have left us in the intervening years including my good freinds,  ever-present spectator Reg Probert  , always the first person on the stand , and the inspirational Joy Rainey, former Lady's Record holder and motoring adventurer. It isn't the same with out them, but hopefully they are looking down on Prescott and approving at the recovery it's making after the pandemic lock-downs . 

However someone was looking down on me as I packed away and having a laugh… it started raining just as I began to take the marquee down…and it rained…and rained..and rained, absolutely ‘bucketing down’ until I had just managed to put the last bits back in the trailer which itself was like a swimming pool. Then it stopped! 

I drove home soaked to the skin. If the rain has arrived 20 mins later, or I had packed up 20 mins sooner I would have avoided it completely. Great timing…  I spent the rest of the week drying out the marquee sheets and even the tables and tent pegs. Everything was saturated. Luckily all the books had been stowed in the car a matter of moments before! 

The second event was a one-day , non-competitive Italian Cars day. 

I didn't have high expectations but it turned out pretty well and the crowd was bigger than I imagined and full of new and unfamiliar faces - which means new customers. And that's always a good thing.  The trouble with this event was that while the paddock was crammed with Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Lancias and other exotics,  I was completely stuck on the stall and  did not get to look round … I did watch a few cars from the back of my stand and there were some rather nice Lancia Integrales parked alongside…


The same situation happened at the most recent event PRESCOTT HISTORIQUE , another one-day event. And this one had some amazing cars entered. Most notable was the ‘continuation’ BRM V16 Grand Prix car which appeared along with several BRM engined cars and two former BRM works drivers, Mike Wilds and Howden Ganley which both raced in Grands Prix for the team back in the early-mid 1970s.  I didn't see Mike but Howden dropped into the stand for a look round and a chat. Luckily motoring writer Ian Wagstaff  was on hand to take what he called a ‘happy snap’ of the moment. 

If I say the BRM V16  was "electrifying', it carries the wrong connotation these days.  Now I have to say it is anything BUT electric. It has everything most of us petrol-heads find absent with EVs… like heart, soul and a soundtrack!  Oh what a soundtrack… The beauty of the  car that was run at Prescott is that this isn't a fragile 70 year old that has to be pampered, it's a recent ‘continuation’ car. A tool-room copy built from original plans. And as such it's metal is new and it's tolerances are fine. It can be, and it is,  thrashed . With Rob Hall at the controls it shrieked up the hill, wheels spinning and tyres smoking while that operatic engine note echoed around the Cotswold hills. It is truly ‘alive’ and spine tingling in a way that no EV can ever hope to evoke.  No one who saw it is likely to forget the experience.

Nor indeed three short, but rapid, low passes by a Supermarine Spitfire in D-Day markings that few in at lunch time. What is it about the sound of a Spitfire's Merlin engine that reduces  grown-up's to tears?. And thats not just me, I know there are many more who find the same thing happens every time. 

 I 'm very grateful to my old friend Ian Beale for helping me set up and pack away the marquee at this event, it saved a lot of time and energy. Ian and I were at school together and later we rallied together for four seasons : I drove, Ian navigated. It's sobering to think that next season it will be 30 years since our last competitive event . I think we need to mark that in some way. The old team can be reunited! 

Meantime Ian and his family (Jo and Hannah) are enjoying slightly more sedate motoring in their gorgeous Citroen Light 15 Traction Avant which I photographed last year at the VSCC Prescott event.

And so to the coming weekend and another event. Hopefully no rain and no fog, just lots of customers and more great cars to drool over. 


Bugatti Brescia


Racing Car Dormitory…


“It's that Peter Baker again!” fresh from his many appearances on TV at Goodwood Members Meeting


Reigning British Hillclimb Champion Wallace Menzies' immaculate Gould GR59M