Published Thursday, 12 April 2012
The Croft Hill climb was first run in 1931 with the Thoroughbred and Sports Car Club taking over as organiser in 1989. Croft is the first of a triple header of hill climbs for this area of Co Down with the Cultra and Craigantlet events happening during the summer months. Geographically, these are the closest hill climbs to a city centre anywhere in the UK and Belfast's closest motorsport venue in continual use.
The Thoroughbred and Sports Car Club run event will be staged on public roads (necessitating a road closing order, one of those Northern Ireland nuances) as like all the other hill climbs in the 10 event championship. The paddock will be based in lower Ballymenoch Road with the actual startline placed at the foot of Creighton Green Road.
The drivers will be straight into action as the start fires the cars into a series of bends with more substantial straights coming further up the hill. The finishing line will meet the competitors after only 875 metres, making Croft the shortest in the championship after being shortened 3 times from its original length.
Setting the scene, the course is lined with hedgerows and the odd residential property with the later parts of the course lined with earth banks and fields. Various viewing spots can be accessed via public footpaths and, as the course rises, magnificent views of Belfast Lough are revealed.
Luckily, the competitors have their backs to the lough, taking away any distraction and the fact that you are nearly parallel to any planes on their approach into the city airport. In between the runs, the silence on the hill can be deafening as fishing boats and ferries come into view.
Generally, if accidents and the weather permits, the competitors will at least get 2 practice and 3 timed runs up the hill. Each time it is just them against the clock with their cars categorized into16 different classes which are mainly based on engine size: 2/4 wheel drive, modified or road going and specialised single seater racing and hill climb cars. In essence, this eclectic mix allows spectators to see anything from rally cars, race cars, vintage, classic and modern production models.
One forward thinking and welcome championship regulation is that all competitors must marshal one event during the season which hopefully goes some small way to easing constant manning issues when running these type of events. It is anticipated that 50 plus cars will be out in force with action getting underway around 10.00am.
2012 ANICC Millers Oils Hill Climb Championship
Sat 12 May NDMC
Drumhorc Hill Climb
Sat 26 May OMC
Gortin Hill Climb
Sat 2 Jun TSCC
Cultra Hill Climb Event
Fri 22 Jun LMC
Cairncastle Hill Climb2
Sat 23 Jun LMC
Cairncastle Hill Climb
Sat 21 Jul CDMC
Eagle's Rock Hill Climb
Sat 4 Aug UAC
Craigantlet Hill Climb
Sat 11 Aug MAMC
Garron Point Hill Climb
Sat 25 Aug RMC
Spelga Pass Hill Climb
Sat 1 Sep MCMC
Benbradagh Hill Climb
Images courtesy of Reinis Babrovskis