Shelsley Walsh

Raymond Mays June 1937. Copyright MAC Archive
Raymond Mays June 1937. Copyright MAC Archive

SHELSLEY WALSH

Hosting MAC Speed Hill Climbs since 1905 and attracting world famous drivers through the ages, Shelsley Walsh is a venue of unspoilt natural beauty as well as presenting an annual programme of outstanding motoring spectacles. As the oldest motorsport venue in the world still to run events on the original course and in continuous use, Shelsley Walsh is something of a best kept secret.

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.

Only die-hard enthusiasts or professional drivers outside the region tend to have heard of this incredible, historical course and yet , the annual programme of events is always oversubscribed with entries from countries as far afield as Australia and with drivers as renowned as Sir Stirling Moss, Andy Priaulx, Hans Stuck, Raymond Mays and Peter Collins.

Many of the present day heroes began their sporting careers hurtling up the 1,000 yard, 1 in 6 gradient track in pursuit of the best time of day (BTD) or better still, a coveted hill record. In 1935, audiences were stunned to see Raymond Mays in a straight six, 1.5L, supercharged ERA set a time of 39.6 seconds, only to lower the time again in 1937, record breaking stuff in its day. Today’s hill climb champions achieve the summit with speeds in excess of 140 mph and in times of under 23 seconds!

Innovation

The venue was a major sporting highlight on the international calendar with it being not only part of the British scene but also as a round of the European Hill Climb Championship which in turn saw the venue innovate as it featured the first electrical motor sport timekeeping. In 1932 Shelsley was host to the BBC’s first ever outside sport broadcast when it was broadcast internationally on the Empire Service. Grand Prix cars and engines came to Shelsley as they left the circuits but were snapped up by hill climbers wanting that extra edge and advantage against the clock but Raymond Mays did it the other way round as he perfected his ERA racing cars at Shelsley in the 1930’s before developed BRM. The Cosworth DFV from F1 made the perfect base for hillclimbers before carbon fibre technology arrived in the mid 90s, revolutionising lightweight construction techniques and safety. Hill climbing has no weight limit so exotic materials are a god send to many of the modern cars in the paddock you’ll see at any Shelsley meeting, instantly making them stunning fast in acceleration off the start line.

Development

The Midland Automobile Club since securing a 99 year lease on the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb in 2005, started a restoration program in The Courtyard, whilst the Dibnahs started to restore the water mill.

Timeline

  • 2011 to 2012 – Conversion of the ground floor of the middle North Barn into the MAC Offices and Meeting Room
  • 2007 to 2010 – Conversion of the South Barns into the Stratstone Restaurant
  • 2007 to 2009 – Development of an Archive in the top floor of the middle North Barn
  • 2006 to 2010 – Restoration of the Water Mill
  • 2006 to 2007 – Restoration of the Mill Ponds
  • 2005 to 2007 – Restoration of The Courtyard barn roofs

The Courtyard – North Barns

Since 2009 the MAC has been working to restore the North Barns in The Courtyard at Shelsley Walsh. The first phase was a mess room for our loyal band of marshals, which is above the mill workshop and the Archive located in the upstairs of the middle north barn to house the extensive club history. In December 2011 work restarted to finish the North Barns to provide the MAC with new offices, a meeting room, Archivist office and research facility. The MAC office was moved from the portacabin on the 13th April 2012 and officially opened on the 16th April 2012, with The Courtyard Bar having new shutters in time for the start of the 2012 season.

The Courtyard – South Barns

The old bird barns at Shelsley Walsh were converted into the Stratstone Restaurant, with seating for up to 90 people. The restaurant is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner on event days and on non-event days it is available for private hire by other car clubs, companies or individuals. The three year project has been funded by Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb Plc, the company which bought the 99 year lease. The restaurant has been sponsored by “Stratstone” and was officially opened on 15 May 2010.