New sponsor revives Simola Hillclimb
February 14 2014
Hillclimbing is one of the oldest, most primitive and most exciting disciplines in motorsport. By definition, it's run on steeply sloping public roads closed for the purpose; there are no run-offs - if you get it wrong you either hit the mountainside or go down it.
From the astonishing - and astonishingly dangerous - 20km 'Race to the Clouds' up Pike's Peak in Colorado to little more than a mile up the Goodwood Hill at the annual Festival of Speed, all hillclimbs are essentially the same.
Everybody runs - one at a time - against the clock and the winner is the driver who gets from the bottom to the top in the shortest time.
It's that simple - and that scary.
Since the demise of the King of the Mountains on Gydo Pass near Cape Town in 2008 (four big crashes, three involving spectators, in one day was too much) South Africa has had only one 'official' hillclimb - but it's a cracker!
The Simola Hillclimb is run on the steep, twisty two-kilometre approach road up to the Simola Golf and Country Estate just outside Knysna, and has become so popular that Jaguar has announced it will be the headline sponsor for the next three years, starting on the weekend of 16-18 May 2014.
IOL mot pic feb14 Simola Preview E-Type 2
Jaguar E-Type about to take off on Classic Car Friday at Simola 2012.
As before, there will be classes for street cars, racing cars and historic cars (no motorcycles, Simola has been deemed too dangerous for two-wheelers) starting with Classic Car Friday, where the cars fall into six classes which will ensure there is a place for everything.
Pre-War cars will compete in class H1, with H2 and H3 being for pre-1966 and pre-1975 road cars respectively. Pukka racing machinery split into the same cut-offs will be in classes H4 and H5.
Re-created cars, often mistakenly called 'replicas', will fill class H6. The cars competing here conform to the original silhouette, but have modern running gear which makes them as fast as modern racing machinery.
Spectators and drivers attending Classic Car Friday are encouraged to wear period dress to help create a true historic race meeting atmosphere. The organisers are offering prizes for the best-dressed male and female spectator on the day, which are definitely worth dressing up for.
The modern big guns will get their first taste of the course on Saturday with practice for The King of the Hill contenders. Cars competing here fall into a variety of classes, from standard road cars to 750kW purpose-built 'hillclimb specials' with all-wheel drive and sophisticated launch-control systems that come off the start-line with a ferocity that has to be seen to be believed.
At the previous Simola Hillclimb in 2012 the top runners blasted off from a standing start to the finish line two kilometres up the hill in just 42 seconds, hitting speeds of 250km/h along the way - and they're expected to crack the 41-second barrier this year.
In order to keep the event manageable, only 50 entries will be accepted for Classic Car Friday and 80 cars will be accommodated for the feature King of the Hill event on Saturday and Sunday.
Entries will close on 31 March 2014; you can enter online at the Knysna Speed Festival website, and keep up to date with preparations on Facebook.