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Aug 1, 2011

Rallying: Hill climbs, exciting and dangerous racing

OK, it is not exactly rallying, but hill climbs have always been considered as part of rallying world. They are a fascinating speciality of motor racing, as it mixes cars from track racing and a stage that could easily considered as part of a rally.

Hill climbing exists nearly since the beginnings of motor racing, as even in the beginnings of the XXth Century some challenges consisted of climbing a road section to the clouds. That way, Pike's Peak Hill Climb was born in 1916, becoming one of the most iconic racing events in the world thanks to its height and the way it mixes asphalt and gravel sections. Here you can have a look to the famous "Climb dance" film, recorded when Group B were banned and Peugeot and Audi decided to attack this race:

Anyway, apart from Pike's Peak in the USA, hill climbs in Europe take place in asphalted roads, which allows to race any kind of car one could imagine: just like in the thirties mythic Silver Arrows raced in hill climb courses as well as in racing tracks, nowadays F1 cars, F3000s, lower formulae, GT cars or touring cars battle against traditional rallycars and specific hill climb cars. So spectators can watch drivers reach more than 250 km/h between guardrails and trees.

Of course, this is one of the most dangerous kinds of racing. Several drivers have been killed, specially those who risks their lifes in order to dance through turns with single seaters, like legendary Lionel Regal, but nothing can compare to the excitement of racing in a normal road with your ass close to the asphalt... and it brings spectators unique chances of watching track racing cars near their eyes. And it's this mix of danger (that is reduced thanks to the work of organisers and federations) and excitement is what makes hill climbs so special as you can see in these two videos recorded from the spectator's point of view:

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