Retro Rides Gathering
If you love your old skool metal, chances are that you've made the trip to the Retro Rides Gathering at some point over the years. This event isn't just unbelievably nostalgic, it really is a huge deal any fan of the motoring icons from years gone by.
Taking place at the world Famous Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb - which we have to say is the perfect venue - classic cars from all around the UK and Europe descend on Worcestershire every summer for the biggest show of its kind. Anything goes when it comes to this one, just as long as you're rolling in a classic (or modern classic) you'll always be in good company and welcome to exhibit. And, it goes without saying that we - as bona fide old skool car fans - just had to be there to check it out.
So, we loaded up our, particularly appropriate, 1970s Airstream mobile store, and headed up to the oldest continuously run motorsport venue on the planet…
As we said, the great thing about the long-established Retro Rides Gathering is that, assuming that you choose to turn up in a pre-1998 car, you automatically become part of the show. Obviously, this paves the way for all sorts of weird and wonderful creations parked up in the grounds - the sort of cars that you really don't see every day.
What we're particularly keen on here is the sheer variety of different vehicles that you'll find on display. It's doubly amazing for fans of retro rally royalty too, because these guys are always out in force. This year it wasn't at all difficult find yourself in the presence of the odd Group B Rally icon, like a Metro 6R4 or Ford RS200. There was even a Lancia 037 parked up in the arena… when was the last time, if ever, that you clapped eyes on one of those?
One of the best things here of course, is that you can never judge a book by its cover, that's the great thing about modified retro cars, the owners are always thinking of ways to surprise everyone else when they pop the bonnet… or hit the loud pedal. We saw everything from Ford Capris with big block V8s and Cosworth powered Peugeots to a Mk2 Escort stuffed with a Honda Type-R K20. Then again, we also came across an old skool Austin Metro sporting a K20 turbo - we bet that one has embarrassed a few modern motors in its time, eh?
Some of the most interesting stuff for us, as supremely dedicated motorsport nuts, could be found in and around the paddock sheds. Many of these were set to hit the hill during the course of the day, including plenty of long-forgotten racers from the likes of Triumph, Talbot and many, many others. For the first time in decades we even saw a Rover SD1 Race Car… it's no wonder that the police used to love these monsters so much in the "70s and "80s.
The art of "going up the hill' and posting a descent time at Shelsley Walsh - especially in an automobile of the retro variety - is seen as something of a badge of honour in the racing world. So much so that the majority of owners pre-book their spot for Retro Rides Gathering, and queue up all day just for a go or two on the historic tarmac.
With the sprint going on since 1905 Shelsley Walsh is not only the oldest remaining venue in the world, but hillclimbing itself is one of the oldest forms of motorsport, too. Organised competitions have been taking place pretty much since the inception of the motorcar, the first way back the 1890s. So, basically speaking, without Shelsley Walsh, you probably wouldn't have Goodwood or Pike's Peak International, and that would be a travesty.
This particular historical course is a short one though, it twists and turns up the hill for just 1000yards, which is slightly under a kilometre. In this short distance though, it also raises up around 330feet, making it a real challenge for the modern racers, let alone the classics. But, while you may think that there's no chance of any of these touching the course record - which is 22.37 seconds in a Gould GR57 single seat race car - you'd be surprised at how close some of them got. Any sub-30-second run is ridiculously quick here. And we can't help but think that this collection of retro offerings had so much more style while they were doing it, too.
As always, thanks to everyone who got involved and visited the stand. We'll see you at the next one. Keep an eye on www.retroridesgathering.com for updates.