Why take such a risk when you can race in relative safety on a circuit? There are a lot of different answers I can give to that question, and hopefully the video I'll post at the weekend will do most of it for me, but I guess some people just like to do things differently because they can - why climb that mountain? Because it's there, of course. Like moths to a flame...
Mont-Dore Course de Côte, France
The fact is that for me, like all the road racers I know, there is simply something addictive about driving a race car down a closed public road as if you're doing a qualifying lap. You need the dial set to 11 from the moment you leave the line, this in itself takes a huge amount of focus when you've been sat waiting for an hour with your adrenaline levels yo yoing up and down. You also need the whole route mapped out in your head in order to get everything 100% right first time - no mistakes or you're hitting something hard and unforgiving.
Then try remembering (let alone seeing) small marks for turn in points, often weather-worn splodges of paint on railings or rocks. You'll find you need eyes like a hawk and a memory like an elephant, a fast one at that. There's no one to follow either, so you're on your own figuring out the best line, and when it comes to entry speeds and the bottom line of how fast can you go, you're now faced with the ultimate question - how brave am I feeling today? It's about those times when you didn't lift, brake early or back off, when you crossed the line and your hands were still shaking 5 minutes later because right there in that moment, you know you gave it everything, you know how close you really came... The bigger the risk, the greater the reward.
St-Gouëno Course de Côte, France - where it all started for me in 2014
For me, European hillclimbing was the draw: a 2 - 3 minute banzai run (more in Italy) in something that looks like it rolled straight off the Mulsanne. Back in my teens I was a big WRC fan, but YouTube opened my eyes to a whole World of crazy road racing and for a long time I thought it would only ever be a dream. The last two years hillclimbing a Formula Renault in the Championnat de France de la Montagne have taken me to some incredible places and lead to some amazing adventures... sharing it has become as much of a passion as driving itself (gocharliehillclimb.com) and I'll be posting regularly on my 2017 season as it all unfolds - it's set to be a big one.
There are so many things that I love about this type of motorsport that it's almost impossible to make a full list. As a die hard mountain lover a big part of the draw is the places we race in. I've competed in France, Germany & Switzerland the last few seasons and often just the journey to get there is the start of something special, so that's a big part of what Mountain Rush is all about. It's everything that goes into your race weekend - the preparation & testing, the build up & road trips, the good times & the parties afterwards... and of course the crazy drives & videos, photos, stories, mad cars you're building in your workshops, how to get started, maybe a heads up to enter a race no one knows about, everything. So get posting mountain people!