The Prescott Speed Hill Climb has been held in Gloucestershire, England since 1937. Photographer Jim Darling, who lives near Gloucestershire, contacted me about the Prescott. After seeing his images I was hooked. I asked Jim if could contribute a story about this truly historic race.
– jim darling
Prescott Hill is one of those places that has been on my list of places I ought to have been to, but never have. Of course I knew about it, a bit. I knew it was only forty minutes from my house. I knew it was steeped in racing history, that it had hosted noise, danger and speed in equal measure for 80 years or so. What I didn’t know was why the hell had I not got off my butt and made the effort to go. A chance encounter with a display of those sad, fold out leaflets advertising Monkey World, Barometer World, and “Ice a Cake Expo” provided the inspiration. My wife persuaded me I needed to go before it was too late and that afternoon I was on the phone arranging a track side pass and getting my kit list sorted out for the weekend.
Early Saturday morning saw the car packed with camping equipment, food, and a bag full of photography gear. I was on my way. Getting lost in the Cotswold hills around Cheltenham was not a good start but those that know me will appreciate that I cannot find my out of my socks a lot of time so combine blind panic with excitement, a sleepless night and trepidation with a sulking SatNav and you might begin to get why I kept seeing the same field of sheep over and over again. Eventually a sign for Gotherington and a 2002 BMW turbo on a trailer led me to “The Hill”. Signed in, disclaimer filled out and fluoro bib procured I walked the paddock in a random fashion. I had to learn the ropes and the layout.
It was at this point I suddenly realised the incredible variety of cars surrounding me. Yeah, so it was American Classic weekend, and there were American Classics but there were Caterhams, a GT40 continuation, MK1 Ford Escorts, A Marcos, Bugattis, single seaters, steam cars and motorcycles.
You could meander amongst them, chat to the drivers or simply get overwhelmed by the incredible display of engineering and cunning that builds a hill climb car. I almost forgot I was there to photograph the event.
A result of the relaxed and open vibe throughout the circuit. This was modern racing, with old-fashioned values of camaraderie, enthusiasm, gentlemanly competition and all set in the most beautiful countryside. I was smitten.
The day began with a damp start line, smoking and steaming tyres were the norm as the cars lined up for a chance to rest of the starters chock.
As the sun-dried the track out in the open the rest of the track under cover of the trees stayed slippery enough to see drivers tested to the limit. The low Autumnal sun made the top of the hill particularly challenging as the sun blinded the first hours worth of drivers at the penultimate corner. Not all of them lifted off much.
Saturday night was spent laid out in my tent, listening to the paddock bustle and the murmuring of drivers and mechanics as they prepared for morning. Sunday gave me the benefit of a full days practice the day before and I knew where I wanted to be and what I wanted to see. I could try to tell you here, but in all honesty Prescott is a place you have to feel to appreciate. Let it burn your eyes with oil tainted exhaust fumes. Have fire spat at you from a 7 litre Ford V8.
Try to balance an ice-cream, burger, coffee and coke as a C-type Jaguar stalks the curves and inclines 20 feet from your incredulous eyes. Go there. 2014 is already being planned. No SatNav this time though.
+ Source: Jim Darling