Loton Park Hill-Climb

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The sport of synod hill-climbing, which remains largely an amateur undertaking, continues to flourish, encouraged by the RAC National Championship. Among the courses used is Loton Park, on the Shropshire estate of Sir Michael Leighton, Bt., which has the distinction of being the longest in England, at 1,475 yards. (Scotland can claim a longer course, at Doane.) Loton had its round of the RAC Championship on Easter Monday but you can see the 7th round of the Guyson/ BARC Championship there on June 25th/ 26th, a Jaguar DC meeting on July 30th/31st, and the 12th round of the Guyson/BARC Championship on August 20th/21st.

As I had not been to Loton Park before, I availed myself of the Press Day arranged by the Hagley & District LCC, which was founded in 1935 and which has a seven-year lease on the hill. I found a narrow (but no narrower than much of Shelsley Walsh) course, set in pleasant country, off a quiet road (B4393) that leads easily to Shrewsbury or Welshpool and which has a very nice country pub a short distance away, Loton Park being in the charming village of Alberbury. It seemed a long walk up the hill from start to finish and anyway, a good buffet lunch in a big Scania van decorated by Laura Ashley was in the offing. So I did it a much better way, accepting the lift in Reg Phillips’ Ferrari 308 GTB, laid on for me by Press Officer R. J. Whale. The course starts on a moderate gradient, swings left and then plunges downhill to a sharp right-hander, before ascending through some very interesting corners. Reg was trying quite hard, locking up the wheels at one corner, and remaining mostly in bottom and second gears, the gate purposely blanked all for the higher ratios. So I did not follow the whole of the course in detail. But it certainly embraces “a bit of everything”, finishing with a short undulating straight that we took at some 70 m.p.h. Incidentally, this comfortable Ferrari with electric window lifts, was noticeably free from roll, and it revs. safely to 7,700 r.p.m., I was told. Phillips’ last year’s 2.2-litre Chevron B25 has been sold to John Stuart, who was present, as was the 1975/76 RAC Hill-Climb Champion Roy Lane, with the ex-Sir Nicholas Williamson F1 March 741.

I take a very good view of the enthusiasm surrounding Loton Park and hill-climb spectators would do well to take note of future fixtures at this lengthy, testing hill, set in a count, estate.- W.B.

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