Ain’t no mountain high enough
Hill climbing, despite being one of the original forms of motorsport, doesn’t get the coverage it deserves in the UK. There are a few names which come to mind. Prescott, which is the grand daddy of hill climb courses in the UK. Then there are the car manufacturers like Pilbeam, a name synonymous with the hill climbing scene for decades. Alongside the ‘mainsteam’ a lot of competitors carve their own course when it comes to their chosen mounts. The results are some seriously fast racers with F1 levels of power that quite frankly would be a handful on a normal circuit, let alone charging up a hill on roads scarcely wider than a country lane.
Over in Europe they take the sport even more seriously. There the courses, more often than not on closed public roads, are much longer than those in the UK. Anything up to six kilometres as opposed to one in the UK and some double that distance or more.
Being run on public roads brings its challenges, much the same as those mentioned in another article in this edition of Torque. Namely no run off areas to catch the over ambitious, rather the harsh realities of life such as walls and trees. Plus of course because they’re hill climbs, there’s the odd drop or two!
So if the sport wasn’t already challenging enough, over the Channel it could fairly be said to be even tougher. So it’s nice to know that in these, shall we say, challenging times someone is keeping the flag flying.
Enter Charlie Martin.
Charlie’s bug for hill climbing first bit back in 2006. At that stage ambitions were fairly modest but like so many bitten by the motorsport bug they grew and Charlie’s attention was captured by the hill climbing scene over in Europe.
2014 saw Charlie pitch up at the Championnat de France de la Montagne. And that as they say is where our story really begins and Charlie started to fly in the shape of a Formula Renault single seater. But as we all know motorsport ain’t cheap so funding her habit became a major preoccupation. That’s when Project GoCharlie was born.
To help fund her ambition (which has already netted a 2nd place this year), Charlie has been working the media. She writes for PistonHeads and appears on their online TV channel and this year Motors TV are covering her whole season. Add to this her prolific blogging and Charlie’s profile is growing as fast as her collection of silverware. Go Charlie!
Well it was Go Charlie until last weekend at Vuillafans…
Unfortunately an encounter with an errant piece of a French mountain helped spin Charlie out of the competition and land her with a big bill for repairs, with the deadline for the next round at Le Mont Dore fast approaching. As they say every little bit helps and to that end Charlie’s launched a fundraising appeal at https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/charlie-martin.
Meanwhile we wish her well (fortunately she was uninjured by the mountain adventure) and look forward to her taking her first win in the not too distant future. Just a shame we don’t see more of her over here but who knows what the future might bring?
You can keep track of her progress at http://www.gocharliehillclimb.com/