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BHC visits the historic Shelsley Walsh this weekend to celebrate its 75th Anniversary

Photo by Stuart Wing

This year is the 75th anniversary of the first ever British Hillclimb Championship (BHC) event, a fact that all associated with running it over the years are very proud of. The inaugural event was run on 17th May 1947 at Bo’ness near Falkirk in Scotland and was won by George Abercassis driving a Bugatti Type 59. The first Championship was won by Shelsley Walsh legend Raymond Mays driving (the now very famous) ERA R4D.

The 1947 Championship consisted of just five rounds which took place at the aforementioned Bo’ness, Prescott in Gloucestershire, Bouley Bay on Jersey in the Channel Islands, Craigantlet on the outskirts of Belfast in Northern Ireland and of course Shelsley Walsh. Of the original five venues, ironically only Bo’ness does not currently host a round of the BHC.

The BHC has now expanded considerably and now consists of thirty rounds at ten different venues across the UK, including events in Scotland, Northern Island, the Channel Islands as well as at various venues up and down the length of England. There have been a number of interesting developments in recent years including the introduction of ‘double-header’ weekends when two separate BHC events take place at the same venue on consecutive days, which in 2022 took place at Gurston Down in Wiltshire and Doune in Scotland. This is pretty frenetic for the competitors but as a consequence enables them to get into a great rhythm due to the increased track time. It also makes for an entertaining weekend for spectators too.

The oldest venue on the BHC calendar is Shelsley Walsh. Shelsley is in fact the oldest motor sport venue in continuous use over the same course in the world. First used in 1905, it is older than Indianapolis, Le Mans or Monza. Brooklands has been and gone, but Shelsley Walsh is still here, as old as the sport but as modern as today, as it welcomes the BHC for the second time this year.

As the 2022 season has progressed it has proven to be an absolute classic in what is developing into another golden age of British Hillclimbing. With innovative, high tech, highly competitive machinery in the hands of names such as Trevor Willis (OMS), Wallace Menzies (Gould), Alex Summers (DJ), Scott Moran (Gould) and young gun Matt Ryder (Gould) all driving at their best in what is the most competitive BHC season for some time.

With nearly eighty drivers registered, including all of the 2021 top ten finishers, the 2022 BHC season, presented by Avon Tyres, always looked like it was a classic in the making. Defending BHC Champion Wallace Menzies has won nine run-offs in his expertly prepared Cosworth XD engined Gould GR59-M. 2021 runner-up Alex Summers has been at his very best this season and has ten run-off wins driving his superbly engineered DJ Firestorm. The top two of Menzies and Summers are nearly inseparable as we move into the last three weekends of the Championship and Alex is doing all that he can to turn the tables on Wallace. Six time BHC Champion Scott Moran (Gould GR59-Judd) has taken three run-off wins this season to hold third overall in the Championship. Newcomer to the big single seater class Matt Ryder (Gould GR59-Judd) has also raised a few eyebrows by getting the ‘works’ Gould into the mix on occasion too.

The Championship is really coming to the boil with breaking outright records becoming increasingly more important in the battle to determine who will be crowned 2022 BHC Champion. To show you just how tight it is Alex has scored nine ‘bonus’ points for breaking records in the season to date, while Wallace has eight. With dropped scores now coming into play these will become increasingly important during the remainder of the season. Will we see the outright Shelsley Walsh record broken this weekend? The current record of 22.37 seconds was set last August by Sean Gould. With the current BHC top three contenders of Menzies, Summers and Moran all having personal best times within a quarter of a second of Sean’s record, the pieces are in place for another stunning weekend of top class Championship Hillclimbing. It looks like it will be either Alex or Wallace who will end the 2022 season as BHC Champion. Scott Moran has a remote chance in third, however he probably needs to take both run-off wins this weekend and maybe break the outright record to give himself a chance of a record seventh Championship. As they say though nothing is impossible in motor racing…...

Current Shelsley Walsh Ladies Record Holder Nicola Menzies will also be competing at Shelsley in the Gould GR55B and has been scoring BHC points in recent rounds. Will she break her own record once again and maybe score points in another BHC run-off? She will certainly be trying her very best to do just that!

BHC competitors are joined at all mainland venues by competitors in the class based BHC Cup, presented by classic car insurance broker Footman James. Competitors in the BHC Cup compete in cars ranging from relatively standard road cars through to sports cars and historic and modern single seaters. After a record breaking weekend at Wiscombe the Cup is currently led by Alex Coles (Van Diemen FF86), with Richard Spedding (GWR Raptor 2) and Jonathen Varley (GWR Predator) chasing him very hard. It’s all to play for here too!

So make your plans to be at Shelsley, its sure to be a fantastic weekend! Advance tickets can be purchased by clicking the button below.


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