The Venue

Gurston Down Speed Hillclimb is located in glorious downland near Salisbury, Wiltshire, in Southern England.

Gurston Down is set in beautiful Wiltshire downland, and you can’t get closer to the action! Copyright: Simon McBeath / everleyphotography.co.uk

Gurston Down is set in beautiful Wiltshire downland, and you can’t get closer to the action! Copyright: Simon McBeath / everleyphotography.co.uk

PLEASE NOTE: Dogs are NOT permitted on site.

The South Western Centre of the British Automobile Racing Club extends a very warm welcome as you explore our Web site.

In 1967 the club staged it’s first speed hill climb at Gurston Down. We celebrate our 50th year at a special meeting in June 2017. Gurston Down is now regarded as one of the best speed hill climb venues in Britain. We held our 300th Meeting in April of 2014.

We have been able to maintain this continuity down the years is due to the wholehearted support and co-operation of the Gurston Down farm owners, the J Hitchings Partnership, to whom we are deeply indebted.

The challenge of Speed Hill Climbing is simply about driving the course from a standing start to a flying finish in the shortest possible time. The entry is divided into categories and classes, so that similar cars may compete against each other. And drivers are always competing against themselves by trying to improve on their personal best times. So each driver not only enjoys his or her own race against the clock, but also against other drivers in cars of similar performance. The ultimate achievement at each event is to establish the “Fastest Time of the Day” FTD, usually accomplished by one of the high powered single seater racing cars.

Timing is done to the nearest one-hundredth of a second, a tiny amount, but one which can decide a class win – or indeed the championship!

Let’s take a closer look at Gurston Down. Every hillclimb has its own unique character, and Gurston is special in lots of ways!

PLEASE NOTE THAT DOGS WILL NOT BE ADMITTED TO THE VENUE WHICH INCLUDES THE CAR PARK

The Track

Gurston Down Track MapThe Start is crucial to a good time, drivers striving to get just the right amount of wheelspin to get a good “launch”, and then they take the downhill plunge, a unique feature in England, accelerating rapidly up through the gears. A time of 2 secs to the 64 feet mark equates to an acceleration of 1G.


They pass through the first “speed trap” at the bottom of the hill, where the fastest cars reach over 130 mph, and then the deceptively difficult Hollow Bend looms rapidly. With a slight brow on the first apex and a radius alters around the bend, Hollow Bend is a high speed challenge all of its own.


Next comes the critical approach to the Karousel, which requires late braking on the ideal line to be well placed for the second part of Gurston’s slowest section, a very steep, sharp right hander.


This leads immediately to Deer’s Leap, where the most powerful cars can get airborne whilst approaching the braking point for Ashes Bend!


The left-hander at Ashes, a critical corner to a good time at Gurston, is a prime viewing point where you can see the drivers trying to prevent their cars running wide on the corner exit whilst attempting to get a good slingshot for the long drag over Burke’s Rise to the Finish, recently renamed Stones. This is the sting in Gurston’s tail, with a deceptive kink over the last few flat-out yards to keep the drivers alert until the end!

The Events

The dauntingly fast Hollow Bend focusses the drivers’ concentration! Copyright: Simon McBeath / everleyphotography.co.uk

The dauntingly fast Hollow Bend focusses the drivers’ concentration! Copyright: Simon McBeath / everleyphotography.co.uk

The MSA British Hill Climb Championship, the sport’s most prestigious competition, visits Gurston in May and August.

July’s event is a round of the prestigious Midland Hillclimb Championship.

The events in April, June, July and September feature five rounds of our own Gurston Down Championship and the BARC (SW) Top Ten Challenge.

The SBD Speed Championship visits in April, the HSA Speed Championship in April and August, the Association of South Western Motor Clubs (ASWMC) holds a round of its Hill Climb Championship in June, and the Association of Central Southern Motor Clubs (ACSMC) Hillclimb Championship visits in April and June.

The “one-day” events commence with two practice runs for every driver in the morning, followed by two “timed-runs” in the afternoon, the fastest of which counts towards class positions.

The “two-day” events in May, July and August feature three practice runs on Saturday, and a further one on Sunday morning. Then every driver does one timed run, which counts towards class positions. This is followed by the first British Championship Run-Off, in which the fastest twelve registered competitors from the first class runs take a single extra run each. The fastest ten cars score points, from 10 points for the fastest car down to 1point for the tenth fastest car. Then every driver does a second timed run to settle the class positions, the faster time only counting, after which comes the second Top-12-Run-Off, based on the positions of the fastest twelve contenders in the second class runs. Points are awarded again, as in the first Run-Off.

The Cars and Bikes…

Former Gurston Down Hillclimb champion Rodney Thorne goes flying at Deer’s Leap in his 3.5 litre Pilbeam. Copyright: Simon McBeath / everleyphotography

Former Gurston Down Hillclimb champion Rodney Thorne goes flying at Deer’s Leap in his 3.5 litre Pilbeam. Copyright: Simon McBeath / everleyphotography

Hillclimb cars come in three categories, split into smaller groups according to the rules of championship at a particular meeting, and then into classes according to engine capacity. The main categories are for production cars, sports racing cars and single-seater racing cars. The programme usually opens with production cars, divided into road-going or modified categories, and split again into ‘series’ (high production volume) and ‘specialist’ (low production volume), classes sub-divided by engine capacity.

The sports racing category encompasses the Hillclimb Supersports class and the Sports Libre classes. These sports racing machines are purpose built racing cars with enveloping bodywork, or at least, enclosed wheels, and highly modified engines, aerodynamic wings and so forth, and they can and do challenge for FTD.

The single-seater racing cars come in all shapes and sizes, starting with the historic 500cc cars run to the 500 Owners Association rules. The modern equivalents, the 600cc racing cars, are powered by two or four-stroke motorcycle engines, and use a high power to weight ratio to produce remarkable performance. The 1100cc and 1600cc classes are also dominated by bike-engined cars, and there are some highly sophisticated machines competing nowadays.The 2000cc racing car class, until recently still the domain of the automotive-based engine, is increasingly being ‘invaded’ by supercharged and turbocharged bike engined cars of 1300-1400cc capacity, there being an ‘equivalency factor’ of 1.4 applied to pressure charged engines.

The pinnacle of four-wheeled hillclimb machinery is the unlimited capacity single-seater class. Many of these cars are propelled by ex-Formula 1 and Indycar V8 engines, some enlarged in capacity to generate more power and torque. Huge, soft “slick” tyres develop tremendous grip, and large aerodynamic wings and cleverly shaped bodywork generate aerodynamic downforce to help create even more grip. Every bit helps when you’ve possibly got over 650 horsepower, you’re doing maybe 140mph and the road is only twelve feet wide!

And at our April and June there are also the motorcycles from the National Hill Climb Association. Classes are again split by capacity, and as well as the two-wheel machines, there are the three-wheel trikes and sidecar outfits.

Most of our events also include invitation classes for a wide variety of one-marque clubs from Austin 7s and classic marques to Porsches and Ferraris, so whatever type of machinery interests you, you’ll probably find it at a meeting at Gurston Down!

Our visitors can come and see all these superb cars in the Paddock at any time during the day, though if you don’t want to miss the action on the hill, come on down in the lunch break.

Enjoy your day with us!