Shelsley Walsh Newsletter
The summer is in full swing now and we’re all waiting to get back on the hill again but we have to take it step by step at Shelsley Walsh until we can put the key in the ignition. Everyone at the Midland Automobile Club and Shelsley Walsh has been working hard planning events with a positive attitude so that hill climbing can take place at Shelsley in 2020.
We have already announced that we’re running the Summer Spree over the weekend of 25 and 26 July and that weekend is full, but now we can confirm we’re running the Vintage and Reg Phillips meetings on 8 & 9 August, the regular August Shelsley hill climb meeting on 15 & 16 August and we are planning to hold a brand new Harvest Festival hill climb weekend on the 12 & 13 September.
We have limited competitors’ spaces available for August and September so you need to get your entries in to be in with a chance of securing your spot. Our online entry page is here: shelsleywalsh.com/hill-climbs-compete
At the present time there is no possibility for spectators but we’re watching every announcement by the UK Government and Motorsport UK so we’re reviewing the situation on a daily basis. We are fully aware that some venues are open to day visitors and we're working hard to allow visitors to Shelsley Walsh, but what we have to establish first is the safe running of a Members’ Day and then the July 25/26 event for the competitors before we can open the gates to others. The very topography and pathways at Shelsley mean it’s difficult to keep distance in places, something an airfield race circuit has no problem with, so this is something we will need to address.
In addition to the above, we’re also planning further competitive weekends at Shelsley in 2020 so as soon as details are confirmed, we will let you know.
Following the cancellation of both the British and Midland Championships, we have decided to introduce some different formats for the top 10 run offs instead of the usual fastest single seaters. We hope this will create a fun element to the weekend, but more importantly give competitors the opportunity to secure their place in the top 10 and for the ultimate winner to claim bragging rights as the fastest car on the day.
Members' Day Sell Out
We announced a free Members’ Day to take place on 18 July with the day fully booked within a couple of hours. We knew the day would be popular so we are currently exploring the potential to hold another day later in the year that will prioritise members who didn’t get in the first-time round. We will therefore let Members know in advance when the ticket page will be open, so everyone has the same opportunity to secure their place.
These Members' Days are our opportunity to thank our Members for supporting the MAC during these difficult times when they would’ve usually been coming to Shelsley and watching the cars on the hill.
Live Stream TV
This should open up Shelsley to an International audience just as the BBC did when the event was broadcast on the Empire Service in the 1930s. They would never have thought that high definition pictures would be broadcast across the world 85 years ago. Maybe 2020 will be the year that Shelsley Walsh changes the way we engage with our audience and hill climbing becomes more accessible to a wider group of people.
We are excited to announce that we’re looking into doing another first for Shelsley this year in having a LIVE TV Stream from the hill. We already have high quality cameras installed at Shelsley that were used in 2019 on a delayed broadcast basis but to do it live is quite a technical step up with the infrastructure and internet speed that we have in the Teme Valley! This will be a challenge but we really want to make this happen for the fans of Shelsley Walsh and the MAC Members who are unable to be there due to restrictions on gatherings of people.
We’ve recently discovered these incredible pictures taken by Paul Fairbanks of Shelsley front runners in the 70s but with the help of Nick Harrison we’ve whittled it down to June 6th 1976.
AD-O is in the very first Pilbeam (No.3) on his way not only to the British title but also a brand new outright record that day with 27.92 seconds while there’s also Chris Cramer in the Grunhalle Lager March maybe with a Ronnie Peterson nosecone in place.
Martyn Griffiths with the immaculate Severn Advertising March 74B has Dave Ball giving him some advice before the off, Sir Nicholas Williamson (No. 120) who was second on the day was in the big tea pot air boxed March spins his wheels way before you can today.
Roy Lane was the reigning champion in the orange Fenny Marine MacRae and as for something different there was Russ Ward’s MG Midget with the carbs mounted up in the clouds!
The number 9 Brabham was driven by Tony Griffiths and had Falconer bodywork and the white car with the blues stripes (No. 119) is Mike MacDowell's Ralt RT1 before it had a V8 and before it morphed into the Cougar.
There’s a total of 14 British Hill Climb Championships in these pictures!
On Instagram follow Paul Fairbanks for more cool pictures from around the world of motorsport - he’s @pfairban
Six + 1 for Scott Moran
Six time British Hill Climb Champion is going to upgrade to a Gould GR59 when competition gets going again, sharing the car with Graham Wynn who’s already had a season in the car in 2019. Fitted with a 4 litre Judd similar to that of Sean Gould, Scott Moran is going to see how it all goes.
“None of us have driven anything for a while so coupled with this new car having a 4 litre engine it might be a bit quick for me to start with but it’ll be the same for everyone I suppose.” said Scott modestly. “Our car has been so good to us over the years it might feel a little odd to start with but I’ll get used to it… I think!”
No one has ever won seven British Championships so…maybe that’s the target for Scott? “Well, that would be very nice and I suppose the ultimate goal especially as I’d be getting into a car that’s capable of it but there’s no chickens to be counted as there’s stiff competition out there and I have to walk again before I can run. Of course in 2021 there are less rounds so you’ve got to make every run count so maybe that plays into the experienced hands ? I don’t know as we’re all going to be a bit rusty. Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to a new challenge in a fantastic sport.”
Scott is currently the most successful hill climber in the history of British Speed Hill Climbing with an amazing 161 Top 12 victories as well as holding the Shelsley record back in 2007. “I remember I didn't want to go home without the record that day especially after a rose joint on my gear linkage broke in the first run off. Tony Pashley loaned me a new joint and I managed to get the record in the second run off. I went home a happy man that day.” Scott did a 22.83 second run that day to be the second fastest man ever up Shelsley Walsh.
I'm Missing Shelsley
by Philip Serrell
The sun is shining and I am missing Shelsley. For someone who lives in the past Shelsley, with its fantastic heritage, is a motor sport antique that is unique. In my world patina and provenance are key words when it comes to desirability and Shelsley has it by the bucket load. (As do some of the drivers - though it’s probably prudent to go no further with that as she might read this.) I always look forward to wandering around the pits looking at the vast variety of cars that can range from coming straight out of the box to a seventy five years old family friend.
My favourite game is to walk around picking which car I would choose to take home – it’s at this point I should declare my hand and let you know that my choice isn’t driven up the hill in anger but belongs to someone who keeps a watchful eye over all. Michael Billingham’s green AC Ace is the stuff of dreams – I’ve offered him what he paid for it so many times that frankly I’m at a loss as to why he won’t take it. And if you do get bored a walk around the car parks can add a variety that you won’t find at the local NCP.
I have huge admiration for the competitors who drive up the hill just trying to clip micro seconds of their best times. That 1,000 yard hill in a shade over 22 seconds is something that is beyond my comprehension. The other thing that strikes me as being unique in hill climbing is the way that fellow competitors help one another.
As someone who has played sport at a moderately decent level the thought of helping your opponent so that he, or she, can whip your behind is a strange phenomenon. I am also full of admiration for the drivers who, having come second best after an altercation with a Teme valley bank, can look at their accidental handiwork without breaking into tears.
So for me Shelsley is the place to watch a variety of cars driven by a similar assortment of drivers in a perfect setting. I miss it as I’m sure we all do. I hope you are all keeping well – I look forward to being able to mooch around the pits – and please forgive me if it isn’t your car I choose but that green Ace.
Hill Climb Colours
Here’s some more colouring in fun for the kids with a Gould GR55B, the car that currently holds the Shelsley Walsh record in the hands of Martin Groves with 22.58 seconds and an OMS 3000M.
Initially yellow with Groves and Ranson, it’s now red in the hands of Nicola Menzies and David Uren. Groves may have taken the record in 2008 but the car is still winning with Nicola taking the Harewood Ladies’ record (on the same day as husband Wallace took the outright record) and David Uren being the fastest man up Shelsley in the 2018 season with 23.53 seconds.
Steve Owen’s team construct the OMS chassis that have given so many drivers wins over the years including taking three British titles with Trevor Willis. Here’s the all new generation 3000M chassis which is a follow on from the 2000M. It’s inspired by the OMS 28 that Willis has driven to such success and is made to accept 1000cc motorcycle engines upwards. The 'works' 3000M is driven by Harry Pick with occasional guest appearances by Steve Owen and Sam Wilson during 2018 and 2019. Joining Harry in 2020 will be 1999 Leaders Hill Climb Champion Mark Lawrence, who had a few outings in the car towards the end of the 2019 season.
What colour will you make your cars? When you’re able to, why don’t you bring your drawings to Shelsley to show the drivers - maybe they’ll get some inspiration for a new colour scheme?
Download the outlines here: