Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July sees the British Hillclimb Championship (BHC) presented by Avon Tyres visit the beautiful parkland setting of Wiscombe Park near Honiton in Devon, to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the first BHC visit to the venue.
Purchased as a run-down estate by Major Richard & Bunny Chichester in 1953, a tarmac road was created in 1954 in order to provide easy access the house. Richard was inspired to create a Hillclimb course by a ‘terrifying’ fast run up the newly created drive by Daniel Richmond of Downton Engineering. The first competitive meeting was held on 24th August 1958. Richard and his great friend from his Army days Major Charles Lambton drove various cars at the venue, including a beautiful HWM. The Chichester family still live on the Estate, farming Devon Red cattle, managing their significant woodland, while also being renowned for their cider, which is produced on site, often by crushing apples with a horse driven mill.
Wiscombe Park has been part of the BHC since 1962, holding its first competitive Hillclimb in 1958 on a shorter track that ended just after Sawbench hairpin. The track was extended over the Winter of 1960/61 with the addition of Castle Straight and Martini Hairpin, forming the track that is used today. The track is now 914 metres (1000 yards) long. Starting adjacent to the 19th century gothic country house which was built on the site of the old manor house, the track turns sharp left at the tight Wis Corner before the cars reach high speed across the open parkland section of the hill.
Continuing over Bunny’s Leap and braking into Gate Corner, the course then climbs through the tricky tree covered Esses section. At the end of the Esses the track turns sharp right at Sawbench Hairpin before starting the climb up Castle Straight to the sting in the tail, Martini Hairpin. Many a good run has been ruined at Martini, which requires heavy braking from high speed and seems to go on forever as cars search for grip as they exit for the finish line.
The BHC is now moving into the latter stages of what is proving to be an absolutely classic Championship year. Record breaking has been a regular theme of the 2022 season, with five of the nine events to date producing new outright records. The current top three of Wallace Menzies (Gould GR59M – Cosworth XD), Alex Summers (DJ Firestorm – Cosworth XD) and Scott Moran (Gould GR59 – Judd) have regularly reset outright records and have been joined by newcomer Matt Ryder (Gould GR59 – Judd) on occasion too. Wallace is the current record holder at Wiscombe with a time of 33.13 seconds, and will be looking to secure the extra point for breaking it once again. These additional points are sure to prove vital in determining who will be crowned 2022 BHC Champion. A wildcard to throw into the pot this weekend is a first appearance in 2022 of Gould constructor Sean Gould, who will share the ‘works’ Gould with Matt Ryder.
The top contenders in the class based Championship the BHC Cup presented by Classic Car Insurance Broker Footman James, will also be out at Wiscombe. Richard Spedding (GWR Raptor 2) currently leads by a single point from Jonathen Varley (GWR Predator) who is a further three points clear of young Alex Coles (Van Diemen RF86). With dropped scores now coming into play it could be all change at the top after the weekend.
Competitive action is scheduled to start at 8.30am on both days and will continue until around 5.00pm. In an experimental change of format there will be a BHC run-off on each day.
Make your plans to visit Wiscombe Park over the weekend of 30th & 31st July. The action is sure to be intense as drivers fight over vital Championship points. Advance tickets can be purchased by clicking the button below.