I am a bit of an old hand at Chateau Impney and have a big soft spot for it. Not just because I drove the wonderful ex-Phil Scragg HMW-Jaguar there for a feature a couple of years ago, but also because I have followed the hill climb revival’s progress from just a germ of an idea to fruition. In the process I have been among the first to see many of the wonderful archive images and stories that have come to light since Rod Spollon announced his intention to bring back the event that ran at the picturesque hotel for a decade until 1968. And that means I have also witnessed quite how much work goes into making something like that happen: rebuilding the roads and completely re-landscaping the estate to satisfy the strictures of the MSA’s blue book.
Finally, last weekend (11-12 July), after years in the planning, it all came to fruition and Droitwich reverberated to the sound of vintage and classic cars. Of course, it was two groups that stole the show: the aero-engined behemoths that had to tiptoe up the complex little course and, in contrast, the pre-war specials that were thrown sideways into every corner with lurid abandon.
I say they stole the show, but the truth is that the venue was the real star. It is such a fabulous looking place and the course meandered through the beautifully kept grounds like it belonged there. Which, of course, it does.
I was mightily impressed also with the quality of the organisation. The hotel was closed and staff leave cancelled to prepare for this event and it showed. On the one hand you had a paddock as relaxed and accessible as at any VSCC meet, on the other the parking was carried out with military precision, there were proper grandstands and big screens, expert commentary, and, if you were one of the privileged visitors with access to the hotel and terrace itself, you had a view of the competition pretty much unrivalled in the UK. It was exactly how Rod Spollon said it would be, and with no skimping, which brushed aside the sceptics and demonstrated a huge amount of ambition for an inaugural event that was dogged with some rotten weather on the Sunday.
If there was any downside to Chateau Impney Hillclimb 2015 it was that it needed quite a few thousand more people there to fill the space, really make it buzz and lend the same atmosphere to some of the outposts such as the trade village and concours as there was in the most popular viewing areas. If everyone else who was there enjoyed it as much as I did I am sure that won’t be an issue next year!