Hill Climb carries the highest personal risk of all motorsports, but can also be the most thrilling for drivers and spectators. Competitors race one car at a time up closed mountain roads, against the clock to achieve the lowest lap time in their class or the lowest time overall for the title of ‘King of the Hill’.
An advanced form of time attack competition, racers are usually required to have previous motorsports experience and licensing, as well as additional safety equipment similar to endurance or road racing. A 6-point harness, helmet, neck protection, approved fire-resistant clothing, and fire suppression system are common requirements.
While some event organizers require a minimum of a helmet, fire suit, and a fire extinguisher within reach of the driver, most organizations require full safety equipment and also have emergency medical treatment and evacuation services on-site.
Famous hill climb events include the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which are commonly entered by automotive manufacturers and professional drivers. Hill climb racing is very popular within Europe, however hill climbs are run to a lesser extent within North America. The Knox Mountain Hill Climb in Kelowna, Canada is the longest-running hill climb in North America.
Commonly taking place over a 2-day period, drivers will be given an untimed practice run at the course before taking any timed runs. It is common for a driver to take 3 or 4 runs up the course on a day. Fast times are usually set on the 2nd day after the course has been ‘rubbered in’ to provide better traction. Due to its exceptional length, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb allows drivers to practice individual sections of the course over a number of days before making their competition attempts.
Hill climb car classification usually follows time attack rule sets, however event organizers commonly have their own classification systems.
Hill climbs are staged events similar to rally and autocross races, so the vehicle must launch from a complete stop and then trip start and finish lights on course. A combination of gearing, power, and suspension is required to make a competent hill climb vehicle. Depending on the vehicle class, great effort can be made to reduce the weight and increase the power output of the vehicle. As with time attack, radical aerodynamic devices are commonly employed.
Due to natural terrain being used as a racing surface, drivers need to be extra cautious to avoid rocks, trees, gates, and other objects that are often found at the side of the road. There are well-documented cases of vehicles going off-course at hill climb races, and no longer being driveable. Some rather serious injuries have also occurred over the years, adding to the requirements for additional safety equipment and on-site rescue services.
SoloStorm Data Logging and Analysis Software for Android features a predictive lap timer / coach to help hill climb racers decide when they should push in order to lock in a fast lap time. The course map can also be analyzed in 3D, so the driver can understand how topography is playing a role in the performance of the vehicle.
Fast runs from previous races at the same mountain can be found in Petrel Cloud and used to compare driver performance year-over-year.
Video captured by SoloStorm can be reviewed to see how close to the edge the driver is running at turn exit. It is common for drivers racing in a hill climb to claim that they ‘did not lift’, but the data may say otherwise.