Shelsley Walsh Newsletter
Winter 2020 into 2021 has gone quickly for us at Shelsley with planning and work all focussed on the season ahead and with brighter news emanating from London about when we return to a more normal life, we’re ready for all eventualities here on The Hill.
What many are looking forward to is the resumption of battle between Alex Summers and Sean Gould going under the magical 23 second bracket at Shelsley and towards the 22.58 second of the outright record that has stood since August 2008 by Martin Groves. Four time British Champion Groves was a very committed driver and like all record holders could pull out ‘a run’ when he needed to, but he went under 23 seconds five times such was his speed.
If you compare the run of Summers last September to that of Groves in 2008, Summers only loses out through the Esses and then up the finish straight, probably through the difference in grip from older tarmac. Sean Gould was a little slower on Ess Approach in sheer speed but is over 22 mph faster than Summers over the line and yet they were split by 0.02 seconds. It’s close!
Blend into 2021 reigning Champion Wallace Menzies, Trevor Willis who did his fastest ever run up Shelsley last year, six time Champion Scott Moran in a Gould GR59 Judd like Sean Gould, David Uren, Will Hall, Richard Spedding - all BTD winners at Shelsley - and boy oh boy we have some thrilling hill climbing on our hands.
Make sure you are track side to see the action as it unfolds in 2021 as MAC Membership is huge value over paying on the gate to see the world’s fastest hill climb cars at the world’s oldest motorsport venue.
Entries are open to Shelsley Walsh for all of our meetings with our dedicated online website and we have seen many of you keen to get back on the hill.
Our dates are all on our website with all the classes for you to enter in.
Roadmap to Opening
There is no doubt the last 12 months have been the most difficult when you are trying to organise motorsport and run a venue. The Pandemic has thrown multiple challenges our way, but the facts are that the MAC did and achieve more within the constrictions placed upon us than any other motoring based club.
For 2021 the experience gained in 2020 will stand us in in good stead so that we can get place you our valued member on the hill watching motorsport live once again so here are where we believe things stand as of March 3rd.
The key date is the 29th of March. From this point on Motorsport will be allowed to restart. During 2020, Motorsport bubbles were created that separated the competitors, marshals and officials from any spectators and our expectation is that this restriction will continue until at least June 21st, but at the time of writing we have yet to have official conformation from the Motorsport UK.
Our first Shelsley Walsh event will take place on May 1/2 as planned and entries are already flowing in but competition will also take place at Curborough on the 18th April, unless the owners have restrictions placed on them by the local authorities.
Many of the travel restrictions are also expected to be lifted from the 29th so March we can all travel to the venues in order to take part.
Spectators, Social Events and other activities
Outside activity is accepted as being much safer and less likely to be a source of infection provided we all maintain social distancing and stick to the rule of six introduced last year so from April 12th, outdoor attractions can open, we will be allowed to serve food and drink but at this time the restaurant will remain only open for serving food while all will have to eat outside. For those of you wishing to book a stay in either our Campbell or Segrave cottages, they will be available for hire from the 12th April.
Social events planed at Shelsley Walsh between 12th April and the 17th May , with their anticipated restrictions are are Cars in the Valley on April 15th , Breakfast Club on April 18th and Cars in the Valley on May 6th. All will be for MAC Members only and limited to 125 cars.
For our first competitive event of the year on the 1st/2nd May we are planning to open for members only to attend and with a restricted capacity.
Signage reminding attendees to wash their hands, wearing of face coverings and maintaining social distancing will be placed throughout the site to maintain the venue as Covid secure. As last year spectating members will not be allowed to enter the motorsport bubble.
From the 17th of May Shelsley Walsh will be able to re-open to the general public but will have a restricted capacity increased to 5,000. Restrictions on entry to the motorsport bubble are expected to remain as will the reminders on Covid security.
The government are not intending to review the guidance of the wearing of face coverings and social distance until the 21st June.
For all events everyone in attendance has to be registered on line in order to comply with track and trace while for the general public, tickets are only available in advance, again online.
We will update you on how the guidelines change as the path out of lockdown progresses.
1942 - 2021
Sad news reached us all at the end of February about the death of Hannu Mikkola. He was a rallying and Shelsley legend as only three years after taking the World Rally Championship, and still as a works driver for Audi Sport, he came to Shelsley Walsh in July 1986 to celebrate 50 years since Hans Stuck came with the similar four rings of the Auto Union in 1936.
Driving the Group B Audi Sport Quattro ’44 WMN’ he smashed the closed car record at Shelsley by 1.1 seconds lowering in to 29.51 seconds but it could have been an even greater mark as the technicians didn’t know it was a tarmac hill and so came with the car prepared for gravel hence the roll and lurch of the car. What could Mikkola’s time have been with tarmac spec? Some say an early 28.
Following Audi’s immediate withdrawal from the World Rally Championship in early 1986 after the Portugal Group B accidents that were the beginning of the end of the class, his Shelsley run was probably the last time he ever drove a contemporary Group B Audi Quattro in anger.
We contacted Hannu to attend the Classic Nostalgia meeting in 2016 but he had just undergone heart surgery and was recovering in Florida so was unable to attend that year and the year after but he remembered Shelsley as ‘very narrow’.
The current closed car record is 28.09 seconds held by Mike Endean in the Gould Puma and many have their eyes on the target.
Hannu was suffering with cancer of late but in a message to us from his son Vesa, he ‘was in a better place now’.
1953 - 2021
Hill climb commentator, reporter and friend of the MAC and Shelsley Walsh Eddie Walder sadly died in February. Voice of the Crossing commentary box for many years he would position himself there for the entire day raising his tone as the speed increased with the single seaters. His knowledge of the modern hill climb scene over the past 25 years was exemplary and was a regular font of knowledge as to where a car had got to and who the previous owner was, and we would never doubt him!
Eddie’s background was in the British car industry around Coventry, in his latter years being involved with the London Taxi firm and their transition over to electric power. That said, he did love the Graeme Wight V10 Predator to bits during the late 2000s!
His dry wit and ability to talk for a whole day was certainly a huge skill and a pleasure to listen to. He will be sorely missed too in the run up to meetings as his eye for detail in compiling the programme was second to none.
Remember that our 2020 Shelsley Walsh book is available to purchase either now or when you come to Shelsley. Filled with stunning pictures and a record of every run taken on the hill last year, it is the perfect ‘Record’ of the season on the hill.
Dakar with a Hill Climber
The Dakar took place in Saudi Arabia for the second time in January with 332 starters over the Bikes, Quads, Cars, Lightweight Vehicles, Trucks and Dakar Classic classes following a two week route of 4,500 miles taking the crews on a huge loop from Jeddah all around the Kingdom. Stephane Peterhansel won the event for an incredible eighth time cementing his ‘Mr Dakar’ status but in fifth position was the all new Prodrive Hunter 4x4 designed and built in Banbury.
Prodrive built a 4 wheel drive car with a 3.5 litre twin turbo petrol engine and a chassis bristling with the very latest technology. In the driving seats were Spain’s Nani Roma, Dakar winner on a bike and in a car and..France’s Sebastien Loeb, the 9 time World Rally Champion who returned to the Dakar for the fifth time.
There was a little bit of hill climbing knowledge in the Hunter 4x4 as Adam Phelps is the Principal Designer for the Prodrive project that started it’s first ever Rally Raid from Jeddah to then come home in fifth position, the highest a new car has come home on the Dakar for decades. Adam has regularly driven a quick Caterham Hayabusa at Shelsley to some success after getting the hill climb bug during a summer holiday job at Gould Engineering in Newbury. From little acorns grow…
This scribe was also on the Dakar working for the organisers, ASO, providing a voice over and script for the TV edit that came out after each day in the desert that was broadcast to 143 countries and on the ever growing Dakar App. For me it was my eighth Dakar after doing Africa, South America and now Saudi Arabia but even after seeing the sights of Mauritania, Libya and the Chilean Andes landscapes, the backdrops of Neon and Alula in the north of Saudi were nothing but breathtaking.
There’s so much to say about the Dakar and how the 4x4 cars and balanced technically against the rear wheel drive buggies, the petrol and the diesel trade off, the lack of sleep and the sheer enormity of the entire event. To that end there will be a Dakar chat evening at Shelsley once we’re allowed to gather and be together.
Classic Nostalgia is coming together for 2021 on the weekend of 17th and 18th July, this year seeing a focus on the 20th Anniversary of the WRC win by Richard Burns and many other superb Group B, Group A and WRC cars. They’re a huge thrill to see under full speed up Shelsley.
Big McLarens, a Can-Am BRM that was driven by Pedro Rodriquez, the Hepworth 4WD and remembering Joy Rainey are in the line up on track while in the car parks a Concours will take place too.