A Day at the Rob Roy Hillclimb
A Day at the Rob Roy Hillclimb
April 22, 2012
Producer Sophie Boord
Please contact Arts VictoriaCopyright
This video captures a day of Hillclimbing at the Rob Roy Hill Climb, the VHRR (Victorian Historic Racing Register) Trident Cup, held on the 22nd of April 2012.
The Rob Roy Hillclimb, Australia’s oldest purpose-built Hillclimb, was established in 1937 at Christmas Hills, about 30 kilometres from the centre of Melbourne. Hillclimbing, in which cars are driven uphill one at a time against the clock, is one of motorsport’s oldest events and was first held in 1897 in France.
Cut out of the bush, the Rob Roy course included an uphill, half-mile, graded dirt road. In 1939, the track was sealed and became one of only three bitumen-surfaced purpose-built hillclimbs in the world, the other two being the Shelsley Walsh and Prescott courses in the UK.
The Rob Roy Hillclimb attracted professionals, enthusiasts and amateurs, along with their often specially modified Bugattis, Elfins, MGs and Holdens, and has a special place in Australia’s motoring history. Drivers who competed here include Jack Brabham, Harry Firth, Stirling Moss, Jean Behra, Reg Parnell, Stan Jones, Lex Davison, Bill Patterson, Doug Whiteford, Peter Whitehead, Reg Hunt and Len Lukey, drivers who also tackled and in some cases vanquished the Formula One circuit.
In 1962, bushfires ravaged the Rob Roy course, and it lay in disuse for 30 years until the MG Car Club of Victoria secured a lease on the property and faithfully restored the track to host a bustling schedule of Hillclimb events every year.
Sources: Leon Sims, A history of Rob Roy Hillclimb - 1937 to 1961 - The Hill, The Drivers, The Cars. And, the MG Car Club of Victoria
VICTOR SPITERI: What I like about the Rob Roy Hillclimb, it always seems to be a very semi-formal event. And it's also very friendly. A lot of friendly people get here.
NIGEL GRAY: Rob Roy's sacred because it was about the first hillclimb they got going after the war.
PAUL SCHILLING: The oldest upriding hillclimb in Australia, second only to Shelsley Walsh in England in the world. It has a fabulous history, and here we are doing it all again.
TREVOR COLE: First time I drove here was about 1965. And, from then on, off and on, particularly in the last few years.
BRONWYN EDWARDS: This is actually my first race in this car. This is my dad's car and this is my first event and my first race. I love that it's something I can do with my dad and be involved with my brother, and then hopefully maybe my son will do it one day.
GRAHAM HOINVILLE: I've got two younger sons than Greg, and they're all involved in the sport in different ways. I suppose we're a motorsport family.
NIGEL GRAY: The cars are very interesting. Every car is different.
GRANT KELLY: I like the different nose. A lot of the other Formula Vs have a narrow nose. This one's apparently more aerodynamic and a little bit more unique, and that's what I like about this one.
PAUL SCHILLING: I've got this 500, which is called the 'Falkenberg Jinx'. It was built in Nunawading in 1958. At that stage, it had a 350 Velocette motor in it and little skinny tyres and wheels and things. It's gone through about five owners, and on the way through it's picked up a Kawasaki triple motor, which it's got in here now, out of a 500cc Kawasaki motorbike, which was noticed as a widow maker, and it runs on alcohol, and it's a nasty little beast when it gets going.
DARREN VISSER: The car was made by Leo Bates in 1966. It's probably one of the first that he built, and he's made probably about five or six. Three of 'em still exist today.
MAN: It's a very nice track.
DAVID BELL: The thing about the track is that it appears like it's fairly simple. I mean, there's essentially only sort of two-and-a-half or three corners. Technically, it's in fact extraordinarily difficult and challenging.
JOHN COFFIN: Turn one, which is the one that's up the top there, the first bend, that's known as 'Old Tin Shed Corner', and that is an off-camber corner. You come into the corner and you go out of the corner, and that's how the track goes.
NIGEL GRAY: It's quite a thrill to go around that right-hander with your wheels slipping. Quite a thrill.
PAUL SCHILLING: The faster you go, the more corners there are. They close in on you very quickly, and when you're doing it in, say, under 30 seconds, you've really got to have your wits about you. You're twice over before you start.
DAVID BELL: To put together the perfect run is absolutely satisfying and something that I don't know if I've even yet done although I've probably driven up hundreds of times.