Inspiration can come from so many places. For us it’s always been about seeing cars at their limit - in the flesh. The Goodwood Revival has always been the place to go; the Christmas of motoring, a chance to see cars you hadn’t even heard of racing wheel to wheel with the ones you dreamed about. It's the jewel in the crown of motoring in the UK. There's a reason it’s so popular: it’s fast, it’s visceral; the opportunity to walk amongst legend.
Down a little lane amongst the South Downs we visited the Firle Hill Climb. It's a gritty chunk of old-school motoring goodness in a homemade, low cost bundle for classic lovers who yearn for more of that revival experience. It’s sort of a bitesize Goodwood.
What's on offer?
The Firle Hill Climb started up last year as a rebirth of the climb in 1967. The Bo Peep Drivers Club have struck the perfect balance between allowing you to roam the paddock and the course at your leisure whilst keeping everything organised.
We both found ourselves wondering why there aren’t more events as wonderful as this pinging up all across the country. Maybe we just haven’t heard of them. We only discovered Firle a couple of days beforehand via word of mouth. Maybe that's why it was so special. What happened on Sunday is precisely what the classic community needs more of. A shout of encouragement for drivers to get their cars out and drive them as they should be driven. Many classics were designed for spirited journeys, so why when you always see them are they mostly just tootling about? It’s a massive shame really, why should I be surprised to see a sports car, that’s not usually treated as a sports car, being treated as a sports car!?
The Firle Hill Climb is precisely what we all need - a chance to go and have some fun on a random Sunday afternoon. Why should we have to wait all year to see cars with their engines actually turned on? Car shows are fantastic for cooing over interesting modifications and marvelling at impeccable paintwork. I think I speak for all of us when I say: That isn’t really the exciting stuff.
Up the Hill
It’s a short and sweet climb with a few corners that don't demand perfection. It’s not timed. There’s no real competition, so you can tear it up as fast as you can or try and go for some consistency. For most it’s a chance to push their car, an excuse to wring out these muscular vintage engines. It’s a right hairpin followed by a longer sweeping straight which skips up round the final corner to the top. Split into five groups with no real categorisation, each car got about three runs at the hill. Not bad for a £35 participation fee.
We managed to wangle our way into a ‘jaunt’ up the hill in a 1920s Frazer Nash Super-Sports. Tom also got a ride up in an Austin 12 Special Hot Rod. The sensory overload is such an that it’s difficult to recall what happened. Your own senses are telling you it's all about to go wrong, but your brain keeps saying 'no, it's ok,’ because even though they're on the limit, these cars performed brilliantly; wheelspin off the line and some tail happy action. It's an odd concoction of 'holy s***' and 'this is awesome'. you get to the top of the hill in about 20-30 seconds to find yourself a bit flustered but endlessly blubbing about how amazing it was.
Consider attending the Firle Hill Climb. Whether you want a ride in a Countach or just want to see something pre-war with its back-end out, you’ll get an entirely down to earth experience pretty much for free. Events like this are no doubt vital nourishment for any petrolhead.