Confessions of a secret petrolhead

Whilst my biggest passion is garden having two sons and being a single mum has meant that I have got drawn into other interests.  When they were little it was steam trains, thanks to Thomas the Tank Engine, and to be honest whilst the boys now find these boring I still love the atmosphere, the steam, the noise.

Now the boys are adults we have moved on to cars.  Bizarrely it turns out that there is a motor event virtually in our back yard.  I have seen signs for Shelsley Walsh Speed Hill Climb every since we moved here in 2000 but never known what it was until a couple of weeks ago when it was featured on Countryfile.

This track is the oldest operational motor track having been first used in 1905 before La Mans or Indianapolis. The event involves drivers of all sorts of vehicles going as fast as they possibly can up a very steep hill. The track is a 1000 ft long and the rise in height over that distance is 328 ft. The cars range from vintage right through to modern street cars with all sorts in between.  The annual event was last weekend and so we decided to have a family day out which is a rare event these days with the boys being 20 and 18.

The course is only 30 minutes drive through the Worcestershire countryside so we got there very early and spent some time wandering around the pits looking at the cars. I loved the juxtaposition of the modern cars against the Elizabethan house and Worcestershire Hills.  It turned out that a couple of my youngest’s friends help with timing at the track so we met up with them and they filled us in on all the intricacies of the event and the gossip.  We spent quite a bit of our time by the start line watching Matt’s friend line the cars up before they are set off up the hill.  I adore the smell of the petrol and oil and the revving engines, though ear defenders would have been good for some.

My favourites turned out to be the Jaguar’s each time – I prefer their curvaceous lines to the more angular lines of the Ferraris.  Another bonus was it turned out I knew one of the drivers which was a real surprise as I would never of had him down as a racer but it takes all sorts.

We managed to work out way to the top of the track although it was incredibly steep in places.   If you look at the photo above you can just see the shimmer of the car park in the background and this is still higher than the bottom of the track and we are only half way up at the point  this photo was taken.

This event has a wonderful feel about it, just like Goodwood.  There is no them and us and you are free to roam and get up close to cars etc which the boys love.  It is incredibly friendly and listening to the commentators you get a real sense of the comradery amongst the competitors and officials.  Whilst there is competition to get the fastest time in your class or even for the event, many are just taking part and there were a couple who conked out half way up and had to roll back to the pits which was fun.  There was the obligatory crash with the driver taken off to hospital but more as a precaution than due to anything serious, but it all adds to the event.

We will definitely be going back next year and my eldest is even toying with volunteering as a marshal.

I am sorry if I have bored my gardening readers by going off topic, normalish service will be resumed shortly.


9 Comments on “Confessions of a secret petrolhead

  1. You dark horse. Who would have thought that through your veins rushed a hunger for noise and speed!
    You should try living next to Silverstone: it tends to put you off motorsport very quickly!

  2. You’re not alone! My sons (landscape designer & graphic artist) and I (chicken-owning gardener), are heading off to the Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry now to spend the weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix – very excited!

  3. One should always have more than one interest; it shows a faceted character! 😉

    (And there are some cars there I wouldn’t mind taking for a spin…)

  4. I love cars too, and dream of a day when I have more money than sense so that I can get my mitts on an E Type Jaguar roadster (first serious boyfriend had one and I have been in love (wit the car) ever since!

    We used to go to Thruxton regularly when my Dad was posted to Andover – I loved it – especially being allowed to sip a Whisky Mac aged 12 on cold winter days!

    Not boring in the least, its great to see other sides of people – it makes them all the more interesting

  5. I went to a hill climb in St Helier Jersey many years ago, so I know that buzz it gives you. It sounds as though you had a fantastic day out, and I bet you will be there again next year.

  6. I’m another secret petrolhead. I too used to live surrounded by signs to the Shelsley Walsh hill climb (it was about five miles away) but never went. I now live near to another one and haven’t been to that one yet either. Hopeless!

  7. Pingback: Things I Like | The Patient Gardener's Weblog

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