Now enjoying ‘must attend’ status on the historic motoring calendar, the Kop Hill Climb (21st & 22nd September ) showcased 11 decades of motoring history spanning the pioneering automobiles of the veteran era to the latest supercars. The result, a record 15,000 motoring enthusiasts and families flocked to the Chiltern Hills to join in the fun and celebrations raising tens of thousands of pounds for local charities, thus sealing Kop Hill Climb 2013’s place as a finalist in the International Motoring Awards Historic Motor Event of the Year category, high accolade indeed!
On the hill the morning sessions of the twice daily runs of 400+ vehicles where kicked off by the current Lord Howe and Paddy Hopkirk, Kop Hill Climb Patron waving the 1931 ex-Lord Howe racing Talbot GO54 off the line. The crowds were held spellbound as the drivers of the country’s most iconic sporting marques demonstrated the prowess and style of their magnificent machines with spirited runs commemorating the glory days of the original 1910 – 1925 speed hill climb events. Back in the paddock a further 200 static club vehicles were ready to entertain, eagerly awaiting the crowd’s attentions.
The biggest draw on the hill was undoubtedly the Brooklands Museum’s recording breaking 1933 John Cobb commissioned Napier-Railton. The car, which has to be push started, announced its arrival at the start-line with a sharp crack as its 24-litre Napier aero engine roared to life sending a tingle down the spine before holding the drama for seven nail-biting minutes while the engine came up to operating temperature before launching itself up the hill consuming five gallons of fuel per mile!
The Kop Hill Climb celebrated a brace of centenary celebrations in 2013. Both Aston Martin and Vauxhall’s 30-98 celebrated their 100th Anniversaries. To mark the occasion Aston Martin Heritages A3, the oldest surviving Aston Martin in existence, was on show. It was in the A3 back in 1922 that Lionel Martin took a class win at Kop Hill, so it was a welcome homecoming. The Vauxhall 30-98, also an accomplished hill climber with Kop Hill heritage, was celebrated with several examples of the extraordinary make including the ultra-rare Vauxhall Heritage – owned 1926 OE-Type Velox Tourer (OE268).
It was an event full of emotion as a lone Scottish piper poignantly piped the stunning Dick Skipworth Ecurie Ecosse collection to the start-line where, in a last hurrah, the collection’s C, D & E-Type Jaguars lit up their tyres in celebration of their last ever public appearance before being auctioned at the Bonham’s 1st of December sale.
Keeping the excitement at boiling point in the paddock was Dave West’s team of expert race mechanics from the Risborough Service & 4×4 Centre as they stepped up to the challenge of building an Aston Martin GT race car in time for the Sunday afternoon run up the hill while raising money for charity, it was a close run thing but they made it, just!
The expanded trade village had everything from motoring books to artisan breads, literally something on offer for everyone to enjoy and of course make the odd purchase of that hard-to-find ever-elusive item. The culinary range of food on offer was also significantly expanded in 2013 with over 20 eating options including oriental food, curries, artisan cheeses, homemade pasties and fresh seafood to name but a few! There was something for every taste on offer, and of course the now famous Kop Hill Climb Ale brewed especially for the event by the Chiltern Brewery was available once more to the delight of real ale fans!
In a not-to-be-missed spectacle on Sunday afternoon, the crowds fell silent as the distinctive throb of Merlin engines could be heard approaching low and fast as a Hurricane and Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Flypast Team strafed the paddock several times in an exciting aerial display before ‘climbing’ the hill and disappearing over the horizon.
For those with families seeking something rather more light-hearted there was plenty in the paddock to enjoy with a wide range of children’s entertainments including Haurel & Lardy, climbing wall, fun fair, bouncy castle, the edge-of-your-seat Wall of Death Twenties motorcycle show, the ASM sponsored Racing Bug, and of course, the popular and highly competitive soapbox racers!
At lunchtime the stage came alive playing host not only to such motorsport legends as Norman Dewis the famous Jaguar test driver who attended Kop Hill with the one-off Jaguar XJ13, but the Forties swing sound of Bandjovie, the antics of Haurel and Lardy and the tails of BBC sports presenter Mike Bushell, veteran of over 350 sports.
In all, the 2013 Kop Hill Climb was a phenomenal success, with Climb-goers already talking with excitement and anticipation about next year’s event. The provisional date for the 2014 Kop Hill Climb is the weekend of the 20th-21st of September, confirmed dates will be announced in the coming months, with advance tickets going on sale in early 2014.