On the second weekend in July the Golden Anniversary of Hagley and District Light Car Club’s first sprint was celebrated at Chateau Impney. Although the event took a major hiatus from 1967 to 2015, the year of the first revival, this third edition of the modern meeting has confirmed a rekindling of a certain magic, spirit and charisma that motorsport fans had lost for many decades.
Glorious sunshine complimented the 60 glorious years since the birth of speed trials, then part of a national championship. Today, it has more of a garden party feel for spectators, but as with any motorsport event there’s fierce competition among competitors for the fastest time of the day. This now annual meeting boasts one of the most magnificent backdrops of any event on the UK motorsport calendar, with the French chateau at its heart. Built in the late 19th century for John Corbett and his French wife Anna, the now Grade 2 listed building is the work of renowned English architect Richard Phené Spiers and designed in the style of those found in the Loire region of France during the reign of Louis XIII.
Well over 200 vehicles from the dawn of motoring through to 1967 were prepared, polished and fettled fair to entertain the throng of visitors. The open paddock was truly alive with an exhilarating atmosphere of competition blended with a bouquet of Castrol R — occasionally laced with a distinctive whiff of methanol — invigorated and intoxicated onlookers, transforming the hotel car park into a hive of mechanical industry. On track, drivers were pushing 11/10ths from start to finish, and some could be said to have gone beyond safe to the point of recklessness on occasions — an issue organizers will have to address for future events — in an effort to set their quick time. There were those, too, who managed to attack the course skilfully, like passing a thread through the eye of a needle, to set their best time. Over the two-day event it was Jack Woodhouse in his Lotus 20/22 who finally outclassed everyone, turning in a sub-40-second final run to beat Martin Jones in his Brabham BT21B.
During the break in the competition there was a time for different classes of period and more modern machinery to take to the hill, with demonstration runs of supercars such as the Bugatti Chiron, Jaguar CX75 and Ferrari Enzo. The on-track spectacular was augmented by a Concours d’Elegance, which was decided by the voting public rather than the usual panel of judges. The supercars were joined by a selection of road and racing Bugattis supplied by the marque Owners Club, a 1922 Sunbeam, a Ferrari Dino and a 15hp Talbot.
All the ingredients of the weekend formulated into a wonderful extravaganza, which surely must make Chateau Impney Hillclimb a top contender for UK motorsport event of 2017. For further details please visit www.chateauimpneyhillclimb.com