2012 State Hillclimb Championships at Collingrove

October is just about the best time of year to visit the Collingrove Hillclimb, 7km from Angaston. The rolling hills are still green from winter, but the cold wet days are gone and in their place are the warm, sunny days of spring.

It was no hard task to leave the projects of the shed behind in the suburbs, and head out to watch a couple of hours racing at this historic, postcard perfect venue. The state championships were on, and were held over a two day weekend.

The thing I love most about hillclimb’s are the sheer variety of cars competing. One moment it’s a Lotus Exige…

… the next, a Gemini.

And then an old F3 car, just for something different. 

It can be a cold, muddy hole in winter and a dry, snake infested desert in summer, but at the right time of year Collingrove is easily one of the most beautiful hillclimb courses in the country.

This is by no mistake, as the Sporting Car Club have put in a tremendous amount of work over the past few years to turn Collingrove into an excellent venue. It’s been a while since I’ve competed or even been there, and I was pleasantly surprised by just how good it is. The electronic timing system is up and running, which allows 2 cars on the course at once and provides a realtime readout (with split time) for spectators watching.

The building in the background is the covered spectators area (with outdoor deck). It might look familiar to proper petrol heads – it’s the actual race control building from the Adelaide Street Circuit, and was used for all the Adelaide Grand Prix’s.

The course is immaculately maintained with fresh white lines and marker posts. It looks decidedly european – all you really need is a shale wall somewhere and it could pass for a famous British hillclimb like Shelsley Walsh in photos.

They’ve even built a shelter for the flag official stationed halfway up to stand in, and are currently building a fixed shelter for the finish line. Of all the places for an official to stand at all the racetracks, I reckon this spot would just about be the best.

And now that the return road is fully sealed, Collingrove wants for little. This guy’s shirt is pretty accurate – just imagine what Adelaide would be like if it were run like Collingrove is!

There are a lot of people who know Collingrove pretty well, but nobody displayed the level of commitment that Peter Hall did in his 260Z. I’m sure he’s been up that hill more times than most of the field combined, but it was a pleasure to watch his driving – right on the ragged edge, but never stepping over the limit. I’ve never seen anyone throw a car around like that up Collingrove and repeatedly live to tell the tale, it was brilliant.

It’d take more of a man than I am to throw a modern F3 car up Collingrove, too. These things are twitchy enough to drive on the track, let alone a narrow, bumpy road at speeds slow enough that you’d have practically no downforce for grip.

And I think this photo really shows what’s so good about Collingrove. When was the last time you saw a modern F3 car parked on the grass in the paddock, next to an old campervan with the driver having a barbecue with his mates under the annex? It’s just a casual, relaxed environment.

A lot of people were expecting big things from Kevin Mackrell in his chev V8 powered, all wheel drive Datsun 280Z. But sadly the car was plagued with mechanical dramas all weekend.

And the only time I saw it compete, it finished the run on the end of a tow rope.

The Ferguson’s had an exciting day, one run on Sunday morning ending with a light roll at the top hairpins. But luckily it was only a very slow roll that creased a few panels, and they were straight back into it. This photo is of the car post roll – you can hardly tell from this angle. Roll cages are wonderful things.

The Willall Racing guys had their WR86 Toyota 86 out which has been tuned to run on E85. There’s a lot more planned for this car, so it will be interesting to see how the development pans out. Willall also had great success with Matt Dreckow’s Evo 7, which ran a 31.8 second pass making it the fastest ever tin top up the hill – a brilliant achievement.

Phil Bunker ran a 33.9 pass in his GC8 WRX wagon, which is pretty impressive given that the all up cost of the build, including purchase of the base car, was under $10,000.

The only non Japanese car in the turbo 4WD class. This A4 is a real sleeper, and whilst it looks stock it’s actually a deceptively quick car.

The official results are yet to be published, although I’d be willing to bet that Brett Hayward from Victoria will feature in them heavily – while I was watching he ran a 27 second pass in his Hayabusa powered hillclimb special!

He was obviously trying pretty hard to get those results though, as this slide almost sent him off into the grass on his final official run.

This post will be updated once official results have been published.


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  1. Jeremy Browne October 17, 2012 Reply

    Another great article!

  2. Andy Braker October 18, 2012 Reply

    I'm an evo guy.. but that first pic of the 2-door sti.. *drool..*

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