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Home|sponsorships|British Hillclimb Championship: Drivers in profile

British Hillclimb Championship: Drivers in profile

As the 2021 British Hillclimb Championship Presented by Avon Tyres bursts into life, get to know some of the drivers behind the wheel with our question and answer profiles – from those who have competed in the sport for decades to relative newcomers.

Scott Moran

                                             Can you remember the first time you sat in a hillclimb car?

The first time I got behind the wheel of a big capacity single seater was at the end of 1997 at Curborough. Dad had won the British Championship that year in a Pilbeam MP72 with a 4.0-litre Judd in the back. Car & Car Conversions were doing a report on the championship and we went along for a photo shoot.

                                             What was the experience like?

It had relentless acceleration and I couldn’t comprehend being able to think fast enough to keep up with it, especially in the tight confines of a UK hill climb venue. An unforgettable experience!

                                             How long have you been competing in hillclimb?

26 years.

                                             How long have you been competing on Avon products?

Since 2002.

                                             What sparked your interest in this form of motorsport?

Definitely dad’s influence! He competed in rallying in the 1970s & 1980s. He had a go at hillclimbing in 1988 in his Mk2 Escort at a club event at Loton Park, taking FTD (Fastest Time of the Day). He worked up to the big Pilbeam in 1996 and took the championship the following year. Obviously I was along for the ride through all of this and after a couple of successful years in a road-going Caterham I took the big jump to double drive dad’s V6 Pilbeam MP88 in 2002.

                                             What is your greatest achievement in hillclimb to date?

I think equalling Tony Marsh’s tally of six British Championships has got to be it.

                                             What is your ultimate goal in hillclimb?

Title number seven would be amazing. I’m very fortunate to be sharing Graham Wynn’s Gould GR59 Judd in 2021 so have the equipment to do it. I think it may take some time to get used to after my trusty Gould GR61X that we’ve raced since 2005, but the car is more than capable. 

Lee Griffiths

                                             Can you remember the first time you sat in a hillclimb car?

I did not have any family or friends that had competed in motorsport before I started, so the first [time] I sat in a race car was upon completing the build of my Peugeot 205 mod prod car.

                                             What was the experience like?

I remember the first outing more. A very, very wet Curborough and getting set up next to Ralf Pinder. His advice and even tips on tuning 205s got me hooked on the friendly but highly competitive sport that is hillclimbing. I almost rolled the car at the Molehill that day but even that did not put me off!

                                             How long have you been competing in hillclimb?

About 15 years.

                                             How long have you been competing on Avon products?

For the last 12 years.

                                             What sparked your interest in this form of motorsport?

I kind of fell into speed events. I had planned to circuit race and do some sprinting to learn how to drive first. However, the cars you can drive, plus the paddock banter, got me hooked and I never left.

                                             What is your greatest achievement in hillclimb to date?

In a single season, getting a top 10 in the leaders was a big achievement for me. In a single event, getting a top three at a Midland Shelsley [event]. Then, across the years, having racked up over 30 run-off outings.

                                             What is your ultimate goal in hillclimb?

I would love to achieve a “number” in the British [championship], but shooting for 50 run-off qualifications is the next main goal.

Jonathan Williamson

                                             Can you remember the first time you sat in a hillclimb car?

Yes, the first hillclimb that I competed in was Cricket St. Thomas, near Chard in Somerset.

                                             What was the experience like?

I had previously competed in club auto tests and rallies and the South West Autocross championship. I enjoyed the challenge and the social atmosphere in the paddock.

                                             How long have you been competing in hillclimb?

Since 1979.

                                             How long have you been competing on Avon products?

Since 1986.

                                             What sparked your interest in this form of motorsport?

I had bought a damaged Porsche to compete in autocross and by the time I stripped it out to re-build had decided that it was much too good a car for that, so looked at hillclimbs and sprints.

                                             What is your greatest achievement in hillclimb to date?

To still be competing, and reasonably competitive, over 40 years later! I won the ASWMC (Association of South Western Motor Clubs) Hillclimb Championship three times in 1984, '86 and '87. I recorded the best time by an MAC (Midland Automobile Club) member at the MAC 100 meeting, only beaten by Ken Sims in his amazing turbocharged Metro 6R4. I have had a lot of enjoyment, quite a bit of success, and made a lot of really good friends through the sport.

                                             What is your ultimate goal in hillclimb?

To enjoy the sport and the company of the people involved in it for as long as I possibly can!

Paul Haimes

                                             Can you remember the first time you sat in a hillclimb car?

1979, aged eight, in my uncle's Modsports MG Midget, competing in the South West Hillclimbs – on Avon tyres!

                                             What was the experience like?

[I was] hooked from that moment on; great competition and great company in the paddock.

                                             How long have you been competing in hillclimb?

Every year since 1994.

                                             How long have you been competing on Avon products?

Since 1996, with my Sports Libre Mallock BDG.

                                             What sparked your interest in this form of motorsport?

Family. My dad and uncle competed. Most weekends in the summer were spent in a hillclimb paddock somewhere.

                                             What is your greatest achievement in hillclimb to date?

Hillclimb Leaders / Cup Champion in 2001 and 2009. Run-off winner at Doune.

                                             What is your ultimate goal in hillclimb?

Short term, [to] finish in the British Hillclimb Championship top 10 in my Gould GR59!

Damien Bradley

                                             Can you remember the first time you sat in a hillclimb car?

The first time [I sat] in a hillclimb car was my own Subaru Legacy in 2017.

                                             What was the experience like?

The Legacy was originally built as a 'Time Attack' car but after being convinced by Steven Darley (a regular hillclimber) I adapted the car to suit the hills and run the super sticky Avon A15 compound tyres. After my first event at Harewood Hill, I was hooked. The Legacy is almost as wide as the tarmac in places which makes it very exciting to drive and to watch. 800bhp also keeps your heart racing on the way to the top.

                                             How long have you been competing in hillclimb?

Four years.

                                             How long have you been competing on Avon products?

Four years.

                                             What sparked your interest in this form of motorsport?

A good friend was enjoying hillclimbing and encouraged me to give it a try.

                                             What is your greatest achievement in hillclimb to date?

Going sub 30s at Shelsley Walsh and 122mph over the finish line.

                                             What is your ultimate goal in hillclimb?

To take the C3/3C records on each UK hill and qualify for the European Masters event. It's a huge ask but that would be my dream fulfilled.

Chris Howard-Harris

                                             Can you remember the first time you sat in a hillclimb car?

In 2008 [with] our yellow Caterham (Custard) at Loton Park.

                                             What was the experience like?

Having used a 5-litre TVR Griffith on various track days up to that point, it was such a contrast, such an adrenalin rush – addictive!

                                             How long have you been competing in hillclimb?

13 years.

                                             How long have you been competing on Avon products?

Five years.

                                             What sparked your interest in this form of motorsport?

It was a gradual progression from driving sports cars on public roads to slightly quicker cars on track days and then to hillclimbing.

                                             What is your greatest achievement in hillclimb to date?

[I was] outright winner of the Lotus 7 championship two years running and winner of the HSA (Hillclimb and Sprint) championship the following year – [I] still hold 18+ class records.

                                             What is your ultimate goal in hillclimb?

Having now acquired the OMS Hornet, to keep having fun!

Terry Graves

                                             Can you remember the first time you sat in a hillclimb car?

A 1998 Mk1 Ford Fiesta Supersport with a 1343 BDG engine.

                                             What was the experience like?

It was great, it got me hooked on the sport and it was relatively affordable at the entry level, not much different to any other hobby that's taken seiously.

                                             How long have you been competing in hillclimb?

Since 1998.

                                             How long have you been competing on Avon products?

Since 1998.

                                             What sparked your interest in this form of motorsport?

Other fiends with the same interest, and my father used to circuit race Vintage Bentleys, Bugattis etc. so I probably got the bug from about the age of five.

                                             What is your greatest achievement in hillclimb to date?

17 FTDs, eight track hill records over the years, number five in the British Sprint championship.

                                             What is your ultimate goal in hillclimb?

My ultimate goal in hillclimb is to try and achieve a number, which is a challenge with the very high level of competition and commitment required. My second goal is to carry on enjoying the sport and friendships formed over the years.