R.A.C. Hill-Climb Championship 1963

Our last article on the 1963 Hill-Climb Championship series in the September issue brought the position up to the Ulster A.C.’s Craigantlet Hill-Climb, where Peter Westbury with the 2.6-litre supercharged Felday-Daimler was leading the Championship with 77 points from Tony Marsh, who had accumulated 71 points with his 1.5-litre supercharged Marsh-Climax, the 2.5-litre B.R.M. and, in some of the latter events, the Marsh powered by a carburated 2-litre, 4-cylinder, twin-cam Climax engine.

The closing stages of the Championship series took in the Shelsley Walsh Hill-Climb on August 25th, Prescott on September 15th, and Dyrham Park on September 21st. Shelsley Walsh took place in appalling weather conditions and marked a brilliant win for Peter Boshier-Jones in the 1.3-litre supercharged Lotus 22-Climax, from David Good’s 2.6-litre Cooper-Daimler and Marsh’s Marsh-Climax, the leading pair being the only drivers to break the 40-sec. barrier with 39.16 sec. and 39.91 sec., respectively. With Westbury being absent from the meeting, Marsh, by virtue of his third place, improved his score to 77, two behind Westbury, whilst Boshier-Jones assured himself of third place in the overall Championship. Fourth fastest at Shelsley Walsh was Ray Fielding’s 2.2-litre Lotus 21-Climax with 41.08 sec. The only other drivers to score points were Peter Gaskell with a 1.1-litre Martin-modified Ford-engined Kieft and J. T. Butterworth in a Lotus 23—some indication of the prevailing weather conditions. Phil Scragg, who started the season so well with a 2.5-litre B.R.M., made his first appearance with his 5.3-litre Chapperal but only put in one run at 43.59 sec. before putting it away in disgust.

Boshier-Jones had another chance to show his form at the Bugatti O.C.’s Prescott event, when he snatched first place in the Championship class from Peter Westbury. Westbury, however, had the honour of making fastest time of day in the class runs but spun the Felday coming out of the Esses in the Championship class, and had to be content with second place. Ray Fielding was placed third with the Lotus, Mac Daghorn (Cooper-J.A.P.) fourth, and David Good, who spoilt one Championship run by leaving the road at Ettore’s Hairpin, fifth. Tony Griffiths scored his first Championship points by taking the ex-Phil Scragg B.R.M. into sixth place. Marsh was never in the picture with the Marsh and after taking second place to Westbury in the class runs the Marsh went from bad to worse, finishing last at 52.61 sec., nearly three seconds slower than Boshier-Jones’ winning time of 49.17 sec. Ian McLaughlin, usually seen in a Cooper-J.A.P., entered his new Clenel Special which uses two twin J.A.P. motors but failed to start in the Championship class.

And so with the final round at Dyrham Park the position stood with Westbury leading with 80 points to Marsh’s 79, Boshier-Jones 70, Fielding 57 and Good 56. Either Marsh or Westbury could win by breaking the course record and winning the Championship class. In practice the odds looked in favour of Marsh but the class runs saw Boshier-Jones beating both the leaders. Drama came when Westbury broke his crown-wheel on his second class ascent and had to change gearboxes, finishing the job with only minutes to spare before the Championship class and just qualifying as one of the slowest. However, Westbury put up a fantastic first ascent in 31.60 sec. which neither Boshier-Jones at 32.01 or Marsh at 32.19 could touch. Westbury’s second run ended at the Hairpin when the Felday spun and collided with the straw bales. Nevertheless the Championship was safely in Westbury’s grasp with a total of 83 points from Marsh, who could not improve his score any further at 79, and Peter Boshier-Jones. Ray Fielding clinched fourth place by placing fourth at Dyrham Park (34.25 sec.) with 64 points, and David Good fifth at Dyrham and fifth in Championship with 57 points. Phil Scragg’s 40 points, scored earlier in the season with the B.R.M. left him still in a very creditable sixth place. Thus, for the first time in the Championship’s history, the title went to a genuine hill-climb “special” with another “special” second.

At this stage last year the future of hill-climbing augered well and next year promises even better with new cars on the way for Westbury and Marsh, the ex-Chris Summers Cooper-Chevrolet taking to the hills in the hands of Tommy Norton, the other Summers’ Chevrolet-powered Cooper Monaco going to Phil Scragg (who is contemplating fitting the Chapperal engine), the McLaughlin Clenel Special changing to V8 power (American style), the 2.5 Cooper-Climax of Gray and Agnes Mickel beginning to challenge, Boshier-Jones unknown quantity, and the Ferguson four-wheel-drive project lurking just round the corner. Not to mention another “midget” car from one Tico Martini.

E. L. W.