Monaco, Silverstone and Le Mans are the cream of the crop when it comes to world class racing tracks. But did you know the village of Shelsley Walsh in Worcestershire, which has a population of only about 30, is home to the OLDEST motorsport event in the world.
The picturesque village in the heart of the Malvern Hills plays host to the Shelsley Walsh Speed Hill Climb every year, going all the way back to 1905 and it's attended by motorsport enthusiasts from around the world.
Mark Constanduros, Commercial Manager at Midland Automobile Club said: "Shelsley Walsh has always been one of Worcestershire’s best kept secrets. It has the most incredible amount of history, nearly all car manufacturers at some point have been involved with the club or their founders have competed on the hill climb.
"This event over the 16th and 17th July is an opportunity to celebrate some key events in the club’s history and this year we welcome Hans-Joachim Stuck, 80 years after his father was here in the Auto Union. We also have 5 time British Rally Champion Jimmy McRae and double rally champions Russell Brookes and David Llewellin as we celebrate Group B rallying."
Ask any driver who has tackled the 1,000 metre course over the years, it's not the easiest of tracks. The road can become very narrow and very steep, so drivers have to strategically manoeuvre themselves around the course, all under strict time restrictions.
It's not easy especially when you are driving a vintage motor. James Taylor from the Vintage Sports Club said: "The Vintage Sports-Car Club has long-enjoyed a special relationship with the Midland Automobile Club and their Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb. It is steeped in history and tradition, and so it is the perfect arena for our members to compete their equally historic vehicles, forming a truly unique and nostalgic occasion; it is a step back in time."
He added: "Each year the Paddock is filled with enthusiastic and knowledgeable spectators, eager to get up close to some of the famous machinery that competed at Shelsley Walsh during the 1920s and 30s. These cars are still raced today including Raymond Mays’ imperious ERA R4D, and the GN-based racing cars of Basil Davenport, such as Spider, GNat and Wasp."
Rewind back to 1905 and the first race was held in Shelsley Walsh. It was won by Ernest Instone who completed the course in just over a minute with an average speed of 26 mph.
Yes that is slow compared to the speeds drivers reach in Formula One (over 200mph) but at the turn of the century, cars were a new commodity, with only about 100,000 on the roads in the UK.