With 10 races down in the series, and having done practice and run the live stream production of the entire series, one thing stands clear to me: Hill Climbs are very special.
I found a thrill with Hill Climbs that had been gone for me for years. Half a decade ago my sim racing was mainly endurance races. I felt like endurance was my strength and my skill in traffic and my ability to minimize incidents was key to my performance. But then the joy of racing turned into pressure, as my pace started to decline. Whether the drop was from lack of training or me passing 40, I don’t know. And the reason is irrelevant. But people who I used to handily outpace, started to challenge me. And I believe that turned joy into pressure to perform and in the end stress. I went from smiling when racing all the way to asking myself: Why do you put yourself through this stress and pressure?
Not fun. The joy was gone.
I used to love just driving fast cars. Or maybe put it right: I love driving fast in cars. Because the cars or vehicle matters little. And If I had the money and time, I would still be spending every Saturday or Sunday at the local karting tracks in my 100cc classic karts. So the pure joy of driving fast is still there. And doing Hill Climb practice brought that back to my sim racing!
A few of the tracks are quite long, but most are not terribly longer than regular race tracks. They are tighter and turns are more demanding with zero runoff, guardrails, stones, and trees right by the road.
It really takes guts for those guys that do this in real life!
You get one shot. Like formula one qualifying in the early 2000s. And for your best result, there isn’t room to even slide, let alone touch the guard rails. Instant damage to the car, time loss, and even the possibility of a spectacular crash as the guard rail pillars grab the front wheel and flip the car into the airborne state. 2-5 minutes where you focus on just getting it right. And then you can relax again and prepare for your next run. There is no need for a gruelling recovery drive with added pressure for hours.
It’s do or die. Right here. Right now!
And then there are the cars … Ohh my! The cars … All the rallying and hot-hatch legends of the 70s, 80s, 90s and even 00s. Ford Escort from newer WRC editions to the MK I and MK II. Opel Kadett, Peugeot 306 Maxi, Golf MK I, Honda Civic, Lacers, Imprezas, DTM legends like the Judd V10 swapped Mercedes 190E. And then the prototypes and formula cars on top. Screaming fast and utterly insane to drive on the narrow roads up the mountains of the European continent. I don’t care when you were born in the last 70 years, there is a car in the hill climb pack that you will remember with passion and nostalgia.
All that brings me right back to what it was about all the time since I first started sim racing. Fascination with the cars, the sport and the simple joy of just driving fast. And I think that is the essence of hill climb racing. Competing seems to be relegated to a secondary thing when compared to just the sheer joy of driving and maybe even meeting new people and gaining friends that share the same passion?
So, to answer the title question: No! Hill climbing is for everyone who just likes cars.
Watch Live Tonight
You can enjoy watching the cars of the past and present go fast up a mountain tonight from 21.30 CET on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/gtr24h/live
Buzetski Dani – European Hill Climb Championship – Round 12