Giant’s Despair Hillclimb

9 July, 2008

I tried to post this yesterday and it completely mucked up my site.  I ended up having to delete the post,  go to a different design for the page to get it to work again.

Anyway . . .

I actually had a Saturday off during the summer.  This is unusual for me.  (((Wife))), (((Boy))) and I decided to spend the morning watching some sports cars careen up a mountain road in a 102-year-old event called the Giant’s Despair Hillclimb.  It’s a one mile climb up a 20% grade with multiple off-camber very tight turns.  Anyway, here are some of the photos I took:





This heavily modified MG (I think it’s an MGB) looked absolutely tiny compared to some of the other road cars.





My vote for the prettiest car of the day — a Jaguar Saloon car.  I really admire the Brits — they have a special car just to go to the bar.  We stationed outselves at a corner right where the heavy grade started.  Great view, and not nearly as many well-lubricated racing fans (keep in mind, the event started before 9:00am (and some of those guys were already drunk)).

Of course, not all of the cars were really hot.  This ancient FIAT (stands for, I believe, Fix It Again Tony) made multipe runs.  It was loud, slow, and not quite cute.  The most pathetic car (though it had class) was an ancient SAAB with a two-stroke three cylinder engine.  It never made it to our corner because of a bad clutch.





We saw this Mini Cooper prior to the race at the Sheetz at which my son works.  Regular liscence plates and (if I could get into it) a car I would love to have.





This little Triumph TR4 (?) was another cute (and fast) car.

A Triumph Spitfire coupe.
Another Triumph (this one a Spitfire) rolling through the corner.
I think this started out as a Kharmann Ghia or Dual Ghia.
This used to be a Karmann (or Dual (not sure which)) Ghia.  The front looks pretty good, but the back end has a squared-off box over the engine.  Spoiled a smooth looking car.  I came close to buying one of these in high school (without the wing or the box) but got a VW Microbus instead.
We stayed until about 1:00, hiked down, and drove home.  (((Boy))) went to work, and (((Wife))) and I stayed up watching the NASCAR race (and I find the passing just as exciting as the wrecks — even without the wrecks, NASCAR is fun (which most likely puts me in a minority)).
The hillclimbs make for an inexpensive way to enjoy racing — especially with the older sports cars.
The winning time was a car driven by a member of the Danko family (they run a local LP Gas company) — an ex-Indycar racer which haled from the Rahal stable.  He made it up the run in about 50 seconds (last year in 38 seconds).  I think (((Wife)))’s minivan will do the same route in four or five minutes.


  1. Fantastic pix!

    I used to drag and stock car race in my younger days, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the sport cars.

    I had a friend who’se father used to let me drive his cars. He loved Sunbeams. Had both the Alpine and the Tiger. Tiger was in those days the “poor man’s cobra” and it could hand a lot of supposedly better cars their lunch.

    An uncle of mine used to have Citroens and then he went to Saabs. Never forget that “Riiiinnnng dingadingdingding” of those two cycle engines. Or how you had to put it reverse.

    I remember seeing Triumphs, MG’s (used to drive a neighbor’s MG TC), Healey’s, Gogomobiles, Opels, Peugeots, Citroens, Reanaults, DKWs and any number of others all over. What happened to them all, I wonder?

  2. NASCAR? Oh say it ain’t so, Billy, say it ain’t so!

    First, bocce, and now NASCAR… is there no end to your depravity?

    [Truth in advertising: I carry a bocce set in the back of the car, but no one around here plays. And once in a while I’ll watch Danica Patrick do a couple of laps around the track and can’t wait for the day she pops one of the other drivers in the nose for stupidity on the track, like the guy that ran into her on pit row. But NASCAR – non, non, non!]

    But petanque rocks!! And petanque has boules!!

  3. Sarge: I suspect most of those old inexpensive sports cars were wrapped around trees or telephone poles by teenagers. And what in the name of Golgafrincham is a Gogomobile?

    Ric: Yes, (((Wife))) and I both enjoy NASCAR (we mute the pre-race prayer). We were both born south of the Mason-Dixon Line (though both have Boston roots) and enjoy a sport in which you pass someone by bumping them to force them to lift the accelerator.

    No, there is no end to my depravity. I even enjoyed the musical Cats when it came out. I sometimes listen to country music. I eat meat.

    We used to play XC Bocce when I was young — no court, just play where you are. I know the difference between Bocce and Petanque balls, but is boules similar to petanque? I can’t remember. Plus, I can’t smoke an Italian cigar (Parodis from Scranton, PA (made by a friend of mine (though I can’t stand the Anise ones))) while playing petanque. That would be like having a scotch margherita.

  4. A Gogomobile was a teenie weenie little two seater that was to be used as a town car. Hat a one or two lung engine (can’t remember) and even for a cheap-o box it was pretty cheezy.

    They were in fact quite economical to run (as long as they actually did) and were fairly easy to work on.

    Don’t tangle with a bigger vehicle, though. You’d stand a better chance in a coffee can.

  5. () –

    Boules just refers to the steel balls used in petanque. I think I’ve seen it used as a reference to the game, as in ‘Let’s play some boules’… you might have to imagine that in French.

    My grandfather used to smoke Parodis. I haven’t heard of them in quite a while.

    Back in college I lived in a five dollar a month coldwater flat in Providence for a year, over an Italian fruit store and next door to an Italian social club. At night I could hear the old guys out there playing bocce behind the building. That was in the neighborhood my mother grew up in.

    As for your continuing depravity, I guess it’s good to have a psychological hobby. 🙂

  6. Thanks for the nice hill-climb pics, but your british car-spotting is slightly off. The MG is a Midget, not a “B,” and the Triumph “Spitfire” is in fact a GT6 (which is, to be fair, very similar-looking: a GT6 is a Spitfire with a fast-back roof, and a six-cylinder engine in place of the Spit’s four.)
    thanks again for the great pics.

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