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Shelsley Walsh Newsletter

May 2020

Dear Friends of Shelsley Walsh,


We hope you are all doing well and keeping safe during these times of lockdown and social distancing but we thought we’d give you some Shelsley Walsh articles and stories to go along with. We’ve also got some hill climb cars to colour in for the aspiring hill climbers of the future or maybe of today too. 


For competitors who are hungry to fire up and attack the first '64 feet' of the season, you’re just as keen as the fans of speed hill climbing are to see it all happen too. If you’e entered a meeting you will have already received an email outlining your entry is safe here for whenever we get going again - you’re automatically on the entry list. 


We’re thinking of plans as to how we may be able to get going again, but until then we have to wait until the Government and Motorsport UK allows us to.


In the meantime, stay safe and we look forward to seeing you all here at Shelsley Walsh when it’s safe to do so.


Kind Regards,


The Team at Shelsley Walsh and the Midland Automobile Club


Sir Stirling Moss


As many of you know, Sir Stirling Moss died on Easter Day leaving a huge hole in the hearts of many motorsport fans the world over. He was the patron of the Shelsley Trust that kick started and drove forward the renewal of our 99 year lease at Shelsley Walsh in the mid 2000s. He came to Shelsley at either ends of his career but here’s Stirling presenting Graeme Wight Jr with a £1000 cheque for breaking the 25 second barrier for the first time at Shelsley after a 24.85 second run.

The money had been put up by Reg Phillips, the cheque having been written out for a while, but finally on June 2nd 2002 Graeme took it during the tremendous run of form he was having in the Gould GR59 V6 that ultimately took him to two British Speed Hill Climb Championships in 2001 and 2002.

Graeme is on the podium at the end of the day with Tim Mason and Rob Turnbull.


Pictures from Tim Robbins and John Charters


Colouring in Templates


We’ve been on to the constructors of some of the Top 12 cars and come up with something for all ages to colour in, so here’s a Gould GR59 of reigning Champion Wallace Menzies, a DJ Firestorm, an Empire Wraith and a Force WH to print out and colour in. 


The Gould took outright records at Prescott, Loton, Harewood and Wiscombe in 2019 with Sean Gould and Wallace Menzies.  Maybe you’d like to put a Formula 1 colour scheme over the top of a hill climb car…? 


When we get going again at Shelsley, bring your drawings in as we’d love to have a look!

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Top 12 Drivers Update

Will Hall was the fastest man up Shelsley Walsh in 2019 with a 23.18 second run in August and is always spectacular with his Force X-Tec that shuns the big V8 trend using a 2 litre turbo.


With Ian Dayson and 1989 British Hill Climb Champion Ray Rowan always at his side with the prep and engineering of the car, Will has gone from a lad coming to the hills with his Dad, Mike, to a championship contender, but what’s a foot for when the car next comes to the start line in 2020? “Mainly we’ve taken 30kgs out of the car to make it go quicker without more power. I’ve also taken 10kgs out of myself by going out on the mountain bike! We don’t have a huge budget but we had some unlucky breaks last season so over the off season we’ve made a cam cover that extends to join the tub to stop the sub frame breaking due to the sheer amount of torque the engine produces. That’s what lost me a run or two last year so I think that’s the thing that’ll give me that step up.”


Sean Gould

Sean Gould had a great run towards the end of last year with a new outright record at Prescott in September with the ‘works’ Gould GR59 but were it not for a few niggles he believes he could have had more results in 2019. 


“A pushrod broke towards Bottom Ess last August and that really hurt my chance of a really good run at Shelsley for the car. I was 0.4 secs faster than my previous best to that point when it broke so I’d say I was on course for a 22.7 or a 22.8 second run. The data backs that up from the car but I can only look forward to seeing what I can do when we get back hill climbing. I was as good as flat through Crossing on the data…”


The engine is different from the British Championship winning Gould of Wallace Menzies as it has a 4 litre Judd V8 that has had a brilliant track record at Le Mans and the WEC in LMP2, although now it’s capacity is a little more than the initial 3.5 litres. “It’s more money to start with over some other engines but it’s bullet proof and won’t need a rebuild for about six years. The centre of gravity is a bit lower as the V angle is a bit wider than an XB Nicholson McLaren but it’s very usable.” 


No matter how many times you hear figures of big power, one is always in a little disbelief when people say that 680bhp is ‘usable’ up narrow hill climbs, but seeing what Sean Gould did last year, it’ll be very interesting to see how things go in his second season in the car.


See more pictures of the Gould GR59 on our facebook page.


10 Years Ago

Martin Groves won the June meeting with 23.15 seconds and then the August meeting with 23.39 seconds. Derek Bell came to Shelsley in a Bentley Continental and also drove Ash Mason’s Pilbeam MP88 Judd V8, the 5 time Le Mans winner. Wallace Menzies was building experience with his DJ, Oliver Tomlin was going well into the 25s with the Pilbeam MP88, Graham Wynn was in the Force Sportscar, The Moran Gould was yellowy/orange, Trevor Willis had a carbon unpainted nose and Richard Spedding was in the orange Force.

25 Years Ago

Andy Priaulx won the British Hill Climb Championship at the August meeting 1995 as he cantered to a perfect score in the British Championship of 10 wins. The title structure was a little different in those days as you could take your best ten scores forward and drop your weaker scores, but Priaulx will go down in history as having the full tally. the Pilbeam MP58 remained on the main land as Graham and Andy skipped back and forth to the mainland from home in Guernsey. June Shelsley had fallen to Andy with a 26.59 second win while in August he did 26.12.


As we know, Priaulx went on to win the European (once) and then the World (three times) Touring Car Championship with BMW before driving at Le Mans for them and also winning the Nurburgring 24 hours in 2005. Little is it known that Andy also tested for Williams when they had BMW power. He was awarded an MBE for his racing accolades in 2008 and also a BRDC Gold Medal.

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Andy Priaulx Wins 1995 BHC August Shelsl
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50 Years Ago

Shelsley had just three meetings over the 1970 season with mid June, July and August. It wasn’t until 1992 that we had a September meeting to bolster the season to four weekends. The record had been set in 1969 to 30.72 seconds by Martin Brain in the 7.2 litre Cooper Chrysler but it was David Hepworth in the 4 wheel drive Hepworth Chevvy that took the record to 30.49 seconds. When would the magic 30 second barrier be broken? 

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100 Years Ago

Following The Great War, Shelsley continued to only have one meeting a year just as it had since the birth of the hill in 1905. It was only in 1926 that it expanded to two meetings a year. However, it was Sunbeam that took their first outright win on the hill with Chris Bird taking the Wolverhampton built TT car to the win with 58.6 seconds. The day must’ve been a little damp as the existing record was a 55.2 set before the war by a Vauxhall 30/98 

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TV at Shelsley Walsh

Shelsley Walsh has been host to many a TV show or filming over the years so we thought we’d pull together some highlights of who’s been.

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Treasure Hunt

Annabel Croft was in touch with Kenneth Kendal about getting the final clue for Treasure Hunt in 1988. Flying around Worcestershire starting from the Schweppes bottling plant at Colwall over the Malvern Hills, to Bromyard, Lower Brockhampton House Annabel’s final clue was 'Above the Teme-ing crowds, SLY HAL’S WHEELS suggest a vintage challenge. Rise to it with the inventor of mathematical logs’.

The helicopter arrived into the car park over the road during the VSCC meeting in 1988 with Anabel running towards the startling looking for an Napier car that was conveniently placed ready to go up the hill…but then didn’t start! A back up car (John Elliot’s Alvis) was pulled into place as the Treasure Hunt clock ticked down. “Is this a Napier?” She cried to which Nick Harrison shouted, "Yes.”  At the top of the hill was the clue attached to the chequered flag and that was the complete Treasure Hunt completed. 

Kenneth Kendal concluded "Above the River Teme (above the Teme-ing crowds) lies Shelsley Walsh (anagram of SLY HAL’S WHEELS) where a vintage car hill-climbing event is in progress (a vintage challenge). Annabel and the crew ride in one of the cars to the top of the hill (rise to it) and reach the treasure, the chequered flag (it’s down in black and white). [They were supposed to ride in a Napier car (Napier invented mathematical logs) but it wouldn’t start, so they rode in an Alvis].

The programme was broadcast on 23rd February 1989.


Speed with Guy Martin

SPEED with Guy Martin has been a great series that gels together the modern day Fred Dibnah with the Isle of Man TT and a truck mechanic that started back in 2013. After having set records for the fastest cyclist, hydroplaning bike, human powered aircraft and world’s fastest toboggan, the side burned cheeky chappy entered Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 2014 on a motorbike. However, Martin had only experience of circuits so wanted to get a feel for how intense and difficult a hill climb was before he flew stateside, so he came to Shelsley to try it out. On a cold wet morning he arrived with the crew to drive an 1100cc Suzuki powered Empire Wraith that had only been finished the night before and hadn’t actually been driven by the car’s owner, Simon Fidoe! Scott Moran and Trevor Willis came by to offer advice.

After his first run, Guy said, “ Pushing, push, wsshhh wshhh, its just a bit of….it’s mint.”

“You got no rest because you’re out of one corner because you’ve got to gather your thoughts for the next corner. There’s no rest.”

Guy went to Pikes Peak on a motorcycle after taking advice from Bobby Unser and Sebastian Loeb and won his class. Shelsley was the perfect learning place. 


BBC Top Gear

BBC Top Gear came along to the hill as the trio of Clarkson, Hammond and May ended up ‘rolling’ a Vauxhall Nova into the giant rhubarb before the Esses in typical ‘Well I didn’t do it, it shut happened’ style 

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Go Motorsport

David Coulthard came as part of the ‘Go Motorsport’ campaign in May 2011. DC had donated a day of his time to the MSA to promote motorsport so they had to get there most out of him and the time so…they hired a helicopter so he started at a track day at Brands Hatch then flew to Shelsley. “I woke up because I felt the bump as we landed” he told this author. To save time the MSA had assembled three disciplines at Shelsley being hill climbing, trials and autotests. Scott Moran gave DC some lessons on how to attack the hill in a Lotus Elise but the Grand Prix winner declined from driving the Gould. The footage went out on BBC F1 show a couple of weeks later.


Escape to the Country

Escape to the Country and Jules Hudson enjoyed a trip to the hill after finding houses in the valley for a couple but while he was in the area had a blast up the hill in a Healey 3000. The whole experience rather opened his eyes to how quick things can get!


Salvage Hunters

Drew Pritchard and Paul Cowland unveiled their stunning restoration of a MGTD on the startling of Shelsley. The full episode is here through Quest TV’s catch up platform, dPlay. There’s also a great Renault Williams Clio in there too which has some reverse engineering involved now that some things are unobtainable…!


Car SOS filmed last year for an episode that recently was broadcast so search  ‘CAR SOS 8 Nat Geo’ on your Sky channels, digitally or wherever you watch your TV nowadays.


Father Brown

Father Brown filmed for a few days in 2013 with many from the club coming to help out in costume and with cars. That episode is still on BBC iPlayer after being re broadcast a couple of weeks ago.

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Clare Balding brought BBC Countryfile to Shelsley and had a competitive showdown with co-presenter James Wong. British Hill Climb round winner Simon Durling brought the two together in 2011 to show them the ropes of how to hill climb quickly.

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BBC Grandstand

Clare Balding brought BBC Countryfile to Shelsley and had a competitive showdown with co-presenter James Wong. British Hill Climb round winner Simon Durling brought the two together in 2011 to show them the ropes of how to hill climb quickly.


Covid-19 Work

Hill climbers across the country have pulled together in helping in the fight against COVID-19 through all sorts of ways and means. We here at Shelsley Walsh applaud them for their help during these times. 

Will Hall, fastest man up Shelsley Walsh in the 2019 season is flat out making sinks and sideboards for the Nightingale hospitals while Mark Harrison, treasurer and BTD man from Classic Nostalgia 2019 in his Toleman is making special glass partitions and mirrors for some Nightingale hospitals.

Andy Smith with DJ Racecars has stood in to offer PPE face shields for the company his wife works for. “My wife works caring for people who may have Covid-19 but who are at home. They were running out of face shields so with the company I work for, Vetech Design, I asked DJ Racecars to make a mould for the shields that got designed in a day and a half and we got it approved in no time. The previous suppliers could make 10 shields a day, but this method has hit 1650 a day and a total to date of 35,000. Bosch had donated some raw materials for which we gave them some shields back in return but we’re proud to have contributed to help the fight against the virus for the people who are caring for those affected. We’ve also reduced the cost by about half too so everyone wins.”

Jos Goodyear is the third fastest driver ever up Shelsley Walsh and works for Mercedes High Performance Powertrains helping make the engine in the back of Lewis Hamilton’s F1 car. “We were asked if we could go back into the work and help construct the respirator device known as ‘Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)’ that helps patients breathe and avoid tubes in their mouths. As soon as the call went out I put my hand up. It was made in conjunction with UCL and it took just over four days from the first meeting to the first device being made and just another week to get it all signed off. We were on three shifts a day, 24 hours a day and we produced 10,000.”

Lucy Hart from the MAC office is delivering food to the vulnerable from the local farm shop plus collecting medicines for those in the immediate area around Shelsley Walsh. MAC Committee member Dave Ball is also collecting prescriptions from Knightwick surgery to deliver to the area a little further south of Shelsley Walsh.

This is just a just a snapshot of people who are helping out but there are many more who are pulling their weight so let us know if you’ve been assisting.


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Written and compiled by Toby Moody

Pictures thanks to Tim Robbins, John Charters, Sean Gould, MAC Archive, Rich Danby, Toby Moody

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