Words and pictures: Seth Kennedy
Last weekend was a particularly joyful one for many British followers of sport, particularly when it comes to bats and balls. There were other ways of spending time out in the gorgeous summer weather though. If the chatter of chain drives and valve gear and the occasional whiff of Castrol R is more your cup of tea then there was nowhere better than Chateau Impney.
A short hillclimb course was developed in the grounds of this grand 19th Century French style house in the 1950s and events run there through to 1967. In 2015 motorsport returned to the site utilising roadways that doubled the length of the original course. This past Saturday and Sunday was the fifth running of the revived hillclimb at this Worcestershire venue. It was busier than ever with even more to see and do but it still managed to keep its very relaxed and easy going atmosphere.
Most of the hillclimb entries are pre ’68 with a large and spectacular make up of vintage machinery. Cars competed in various classes with engines below 500cc to the giant Fiat S76 with over 28 litres. The drivers of several aero-engined goliaths also made heroic sprints up the course. 1950s sports cars included Allards, Lotuses and a Kellison, a swoopy but quite wide American fibreglass body over Plymouth underpinnings. Perhaps the most unusual racing cars I spotted in the paddock were the pair of front wheel drive DB Panhard single seaters with bulbous front bodywork covering the forward mounted engines.
Dotted around the site were car clubs and other special displays. The 60th anniversary of the Mini was celebrated with rare variants by Wood & Picket and Broadspeed on show amongst the more familiar versions. A near-complete set of Italian Job vehicles were parked close by too – including a Ford Thames camper, Alfa police car and six wheeled coach, though I didn’t spot a Lamborghini Miura.
In order to attract and entertain a wide range of spectators, there were demonstration runs up the course by a selection of more modern vehicles, particularly all manner of rare supercars. This year saw the return of a group of rally cars too, from Group B monsters such as the Ford RS200 to 1990s Toyota Celica GT4s and modern WRC versions.
It has been a pleasure to watch this event grow in stature over the last few years and improve in various ways to provide a better experience all round. It must surely be attracting many people from the Droitwich area who might otherwise never see such cars at all, let alone watch them being driven to the limit and beyond. While the organisers continue to achieve that and retain the 1960s club racing atmosphere, the Chateau Impney hillclimb should be high on any petrolhead’s agenda