Jack Day at the Rob Roy
Feb 1, 1937
Courtesy Leon Sims
Please contact Leon SimsCopyright
Rob Roy No1 - Feb 1, 1937. Jack Day won in his Day Special, a Ford V8 powered Bugatti, and so established the very first record at 35.42 seconds, surpassed the following year by English racing driver Peter Whitehead, who set a time of 31.46 in his ERA.
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