Prescott Hill Climb
The story starts like this: the Bugatti Owner’s Club, which was formed in 1929, had been running hillclimbs on various dusty loose-surfaced courses in the south of England since 1931. It was about 1936 when the committee moved that the Club really needed to have its own venue – the objections of local residents to the existing venues were getting stronger all the time, it seemed that the ‘unique sounds’ of un-silenced Bugatti ‘s on a Summer’s afternoon, was not what local residents wanted!
A couple of venues were considered, but dismissed for various reasons; the majority were to do with local objection. But, in 1937, via the inspiration of a few Vintage Sports Car Club and Bugatti Owner’s Club members, the magnificent Prescott House and Estate was acquired for the purpose of creating a permanent hillclimb course, it was acquired by the BOC but giving the VSCC the rights to run one completely independent event a year, which they have done every year to date.
The original [‘short’] course was 880 yards, still used today by the VSCC, but the 1127 yards ‘long’ course, introduced in 1960, is the one used now for all other events.
The first proper competitive event on May 15th saw the first official FTD by Arthur Baron in a Bugatti Type 51 with a time of 50.70 seconds. The “short” course record today is 39.68 seconds set in 2015 set by James Baxter in ERA R4A and the “long” course record is 35.51 seconds set in 2014 by Jos Goodyear in his GWR Raptor Extreme.
Every year there are seven events held at Prescott, two of them rounds of the British Hillclimb Championship, the VSCC meeting and four ‘club’ events including classes for modern and vintage motorcycle. The Club events include the established French & Italian themed weekend at the end of May and the American themed Autumn Classic in early October.
The course itself is very demanding, from the slightly uphill start, a full blast up to 110 mph in a top racing car under the footbridge to a sweeping left hander and onto the long 180 degree right hander at Ettore’s, then down-hill and up-hill to the famous Pardon Hairpin, a climbing left hander that then leads into The Esses, a tight left hander, up to ‘Semi-circle, a long right hander which you approach looking at only the sky!, then onto the finish.
On the same site as the hill there is ‘The Bugatti Trust’ building, this was founded in 1987 by the late Bugatti enthusiast Hugh Conway to house a wonderful, and growing, collection of photographs, drawings, books, letters, models, mechanical components … and complete cars.
PRESCOTT HILL CLIMB
Prescott Hill, Gotherington, Cheltenham GL52 9RD
01242 673 136 www.prescott-hillclimb.com