In the United States, hill climbs have a long tradition stretching back to the early days of motoring competition. Some are in the European-style and take place on long mountain courses, and in many cases spectators are either banned or heavily restricted for safety or insurance reasons.

Pikes Peak[]

The most famous hill climb in the US is the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb held at Colorado Springs, Colorado. This event has been entered by many internationally renowned drivers and multiple world rally champions. The 12.4-mile (20.0 km) course finishes at a height of 14,100 feet (4,300 m). The current record holder is Sébastien Loeb, with a time of 8:13.878. Additional races are held in Colorado, conducted by the Colorado Hill Climb Association (CHCA) during the summer months. These range in length from about two miles (3 km) to five miles (8 km) long.

Eagle Rock[]

The Eagle Rock Hill Climb is the oldest recorded official hill climb ever run in the United States. Started in 1901 in what was then West Orange, New Jersey, the first race was organized by none other than Willam K. Vanderbilt Jr. It lasted for several years until safety concerns by public officials closed it down in 1906. Anniversary races were held in 1951,1956, and 1976 but were more ceremonial then competitive.[1]

Climb to the Clouds[]

The "Climb to the Clouds" hillclimb on the 7.4-mile (11.9 km)course up the Mount Washington Auto Road on Mount Washington, New Hampshire is one of the oldest motorsports events in North America, first run in 1904. However, this climb has been held only sporadically since 1961. The event was revived in 2011 and is scheduled to be held again in 2014.[2]

Mount Equinox[]

The hill climb with the longest road, that has been continuously run, in the world is the Mount Equinox Hill Climb located in Arlington, Vermont just outside of Manchester. The length of the road is 5.2 miles and the elevation change is 3,100 feet. It contains more than 40 turns and cars have been clocked at breaking 100 MPH on the long straight ending at "The Saddle". The hill climb has been run by such famous drivers as Carroll Shelby, Briggs Cunningham, René Dreyfus, John Fitch and Miles Collier to name just a few.[3] Started in 1950 as an official SCCA event, it continues uninterrupted, as a vintage car race. Since 1973 the sanctioning body has been the Vintage Sports Car Club of America.

The first event in 1950 was won by Bill Milliken driving a FWD Miller, on a 6.25 mile shale road, in a time of 6 minutes, 59.4 sec, (54.2 m.p.h. average).[4] The course was paved in 1953.[5]

Mount Equinox Hill Climb past winners[]

Year Driver Vehicle Time Notes
1954 Bill Lloyd Ferrari 5:04 [6] June 20.
1955 Bill Lloyd Maserati 3-liter 4:53.5 [7] (63.75 m.p.h.)
1956 Bill Lloyd Maserati #16 4:55.2 [8] June 17.
1957 Harry Carter Jaguar D-type #80 4:44.6 R [9] 5.2 miles (65.77 m.p.h.)
1959 John Meyer Cadillac Special 4:46 [10] 5.2 miles.
1960 Gordon Mackenzie Jaguar C-type 4:46 sec [11]
1961 Stutz Plaisted Cooper F2 4:35 R [12]
1962 Stutz Plaisted 4:25 R [13]
1963 Stutz Plaisted Cooper-Buick 4:31 [13]
1967 Jerry Crawford Lola T70 4:11.4 sec [14]
1968 John Meyer R [5] (75.241 m.p.h.)
1969 John Meyer Lola T70 Mk2-Chevrolet 4:11.4 [5] (73.463 m.p.h.)

Key: R = Course Record.

Georgetown, California[]

On June 26, 1966, Allen Grant, driving an A.C. Shelby Cobra, won the ninth annual Georgetown Divide hillclimb. Grant climbed in 1:44.48 sec, beating Ray Seher's existing record of 1:46 sec. Over 120 cars were entered on Old Marshall Grade in the Sacramento S.C.C. sponsored event.[15]

New York[]

Ellenville, New York[]

In 1957 Vernon Bennett driving a Jaguar XK140 won an event here in 2:00.4 sec on a 1.5 mile course.[16]

Rochester, New York[]

A hillclimb was held at Dugdale Hill, Rochester, New York, on October 13, 1906. The free-for-all class was won by William "Billy" Knipper (Thomas 60-h.p.) in a time of 51.8 sec.[17]

Hobo Hill, New York[]

Hobo Hill, New York, 1967: "Dick Hoban's Porsche RSK was the fastest of 46 cars at the Hobo Hill hillclimb, Bellvale, N.Y., April 30. Hoban, who holds the absolute record of 38.8 seconds, went up the hill in 39 seconds." [18] Bernie Switkes (Porsche Carrera) won an event held there on October 15, 1967.[19]

Virginia City, Nevada[]

The first annual Martini Trophy Hillclimb was scheduled for 23–24 May 1964.[20] The event was won by Stan Peterson driving a Lotus 19 in a time of 112.804 sec.[21] See: Virginia City Hillclimb.

Chimney Rock, North Carolina[]

Chimney Rock Hill Climb, North Carolina, 1956-1995: "The first races were 2.7 miles, had 18 turns, and one mandatory stop approximately halfway up. In 1960, the trek was reduced to 1.9 miles and 13 turns; the dreaded halfway stop was eliminated. In 1976, safety issues cut the course down to 1.8 miles." [22]

Chimney Rock Hill Climb past winners[]

Year Driver Vehicle Time Notes
1958 Phil Payne Davis Special [23]
1959 Buddy Horton Elva-Climax 4.00.3 sec [24] April 25/26.
1960 Ted Tidwell Elva Mk.V 2:30.6 sec [25] April 24.
Bud Schuster Lotus Le Mans 2:28.8 sec R [26]
1961 Spencer Greenhill Lotus FJ 2:21.0 sec R [26]
Frank Harrison Nov 25/26.
1962 Frank Harrison Cooper FJ
Frank Harrison Lola FJ 2:16.6 sec R [27] Nov 24/25.
1963 Frank Harrison Lola-Ford 1,500 c.c. 2:15.8 sec R [28] May 4.
Ted Tidwell Porsche S-90 2:20.4 sec [29]
1964 Ted Tidwell Porsche S-90
Ted Tidwell Porsche 904 GTS 2:11.2 sec R [30] Nov 28/29.
1965 Ray Newman Lotus 18 2:19.12 sec [31] April 24/25.
Dec 4 Cancelled. [32]
1966 John Scott A.C. Cobra 4.7-litre 2:10.5 sec R [33] April 24.
Nov 27/8.
1967 Ted Tidwell Bobsy-Porsche 2:26.4 sec [34] April 22/23. Wet.
1968 John Scott Cobra 2:12.0 sec [35] April 27/28.
1969 John Scott Cobra 2:09.144 sec R [36] April 20.
1970 Ted Tidwell Zink Formula B 2:23.546 sec [37] May 3. Wet.
1971 Harry Ingle Zink Super Vee 1:59.142 sec [38] May 1/2.
1972 Harry Ingle 1:57.314 sec R [39]
Harry Ingle Zink Super Vee [40]
1973 John Finger Formula Super Vee
1974 John Finger Formula Super Vee 1:51.806 sec [41]
1975 Gary Davis Volkswagen Special [42] April 26–27.
1976 Gary Davis Volkswagen Special 1:54.8 sec [43]
1978 John Finger
1994 Jerry Kieft Mazda Bandit AR-1 1:43.849 R
1995 April 28–30. Final event.

Key: R = Course Record.

Bellefontaine, Ohio[]

The 13th annual running of the Bellefontaine Hillclimb, seven miles east Bellefontaine, Ohio, was scheduled for July 9–10, 1966, on the 0.6-mile Corkscrew Hill course, a temporarily closed public road.[44] Steve Herbert, of Mansfield, Ohio, Porsche RS61, won the event in a record time of 37.4 seconds. "Herbert took the record away from Reg Howell of Dayton, who had run fastest last year with a time of 39.2 seconds." [45]


Hillclimbing in Pennsylvania is organized by the Pennsylvania Hillclimb Association (PHA).[46] All events are sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)

Giants Despair Hillclimb[]

Giants Despair Hillclimb in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania is the oldest continuing motorsport event in the state. The mile-long course has a 110-degree turn and up to 20% grade as racers overlook the city.[47] Giants Despair Hillclimb is held just outside of Wilkes-Barre, PA, in Laurel Run Borough on East Northampton St. This community has been host to this event since it was first held in 1906. It is one of the oldest continuing motor racing events in the world. The Giant is rich in tradition. In its early years, all of the world’s major manufacturers sent their top cars and drivers to capture honors at the event. Early notables included Ralph DePalma (Fiat Team) and Louis Chevrolet driving for Buick. Rejuvenated in 1951, the list of Who’s Who in the driving world included Carroll Shelby,[48] first driver to break the magic minute, Roger Penske and Oscar Koveleski. In 2002 Ron Moreck broke the 40-second mark. The hill starts out with a long gently rising straight about one quarter mile in length that leads into a fast left-hander that tests both nerves and skill. Then on to a short chute and "Devils Elbow," a sharply rising hairpin that goes off camber at its crest. Next is a series of ninety-degree turns connected by short straights. Then comes "The Incline," a meandering quarter mile stretch that rises at twenty- two degrees to the finish.

Location: Wilkes-Barre, PA Length: 1 mile Elevation Change: Approx. 650' Number of Turns: 6 Record: Darryl Danko - 38.360 (2007)

Duryea/Pagoda Hillclimbs[]

The scenic route on the hill overlooking Reading, Pennsylvania hosts two events on the same stretch of road, the Pagoda and Duryea Hillclimbs. Pagoda is a shortened version of Duryea, starting at turn 1 and finishing at turn 9.

Duryea Hillclimb[]

The Blue Mountain Region SCCA hosts the longest hill in the PHA series. Named for the obscure automobile maker and following the same route that Charles Duryea used to test his cars, this is a 2.3-mile (3.7 km) hill located in a beautiful city park in downtown Reading. With a history dating back to 1951, festivities this year will include a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the automobile. Possibly the most diverse and challenging hill in the Northeast, Duryea boasts 11 turns (most of which are negotiated in the first half of the course) coupled with some high (140 mph+) speeds at the top. Duryea's finish line elevation is 1100 ft.

Location: Reading, PA Length: 2.3 miles Elevation Change: 800' Number of Turns: 13 Record: George Bowland - 105.528 (2008)

Pagoda Hillclimb[]

This is run on the same mountain as Duryea Hillclimb. Named after the Pagoda which decorates turn 10, this is a handling course which offers all the challenges of turns 1-9 (including the famous turn 6), while leaving out the high power final straight of Duryea. The start and finish line was moved in 2011 to accommodate and larger pit area like the drivers enjoy at the Duryea event. All previous records of the old course have been archived and all new records are being recorded. The start is now at Duryea Start line, finish line is between turns 9 and 10, so there are now nine turns. Elevation above sea level at star tline is 460', elevation at finish line is about 870' for a rise of 410'.

Length: 1.35 miles Elevation Change: 410' Number of Turns: 9 Record: George Bowland - 73.374 (2011)

"Rose Valley" Hillclimb[]

Located just north of Williamsport, PA, off Route 15 in the town of Trout Run, PA. This event is usually held in late July or early August. It began life in 1967 and has been a favorite of many drivers. This is a hill with a dual personality. Leaving the start line you get up to speed very quickly as there is only a slight elevation change on the bottom portion of the hill. You encounter several turns that are fast and leave one to decide whether to brake or to brake and downshift are required for a fast run through this lower section. Suddenly, as you exit the last of these turns, you are met by the second phase of this hill - Big Bend - a steeply rising hairpin turn. From here on its uphill through series of kinks and bends that require your utmost attention before reaching the finish line.

Location: Trout Run, PA Length: 1.2 miles Elevation Change: Approx. 580' Number of Turns: 7 Record: Darryl Danko - 51.770 (2006)

Weatherly Hillclimb[]

The season starts and ends with the Weatherly Hillclimbs. These two events are held on the outskirts of Weatherly, PA, a quiet little town that has been hosting these events since 1960. If engineers designed a public road to be a thrill ride, this is it. The hill consists of uphill straights leading into hairpin turns, one called "the Wall" that has to be seen and driven to be believed, followed by a hairpin turn, a short run to another hard right hand turn and then the "Jump" where most cars leave contact with the pavement. From this point the rest of the hill consists of a short straight leading to a long sweeping turn to the finish that tests your tires grip on the road as well as your nerve. This hill is a rush from start to finish.

Location: Weatherly, PA Length: 1 mile Elevation Change: Approx. 340' Number of Turns: 6 Record: George Bowland - 47.592 (Spring 2012)

Polish Mountain Hillclimb[]

Although situated approximately one mile south of the Mason-Dixon line near Gilpin, MD, this is a PHA championship event.

Length: 1.2 mile Elevation Change: Approx. 500' Number of Turns: 9 Record: George Bowland - 50.708 (2008)


The New England Sports Car Club Council (NESCCC) is formed by three smaller clubs; the Killington Sports Car Club (KSCC), the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire (SCCNH), and the Sports Car Club of Vermont (SCCV). The groups sponsor a series of hill climbing events on paved mountain access roads in Vermont using common rules under the New England Hillclimb Association (NEHA). These events are staggered start, timed trials and club members as well as novices are welcome to participate provided their car passes a technical inspection and the driver meets the guidelines. In addition to numerous other safety measures, the driver must be over 18 years old, drive with a Snell® approved helmet, and have a 2.5 lb ABC fire extinguisher in his vehicle. The club's liability insurance for the race events covers a driver's damage to another car or any emergency medical treatment a driver may require. Other safety measures are outlined in the club's rules and regulations. The council meets yearly to review, update, and change these rules and regulations. One rule is that a car need not have a roll cage and other additional safety measures unless they exceed a course's breakout time. If a racer exceeds the breakout time more than once, they are required to have a roll cage in their car.

The races take place during the summer months on weekends. Spectators are prohibited and the club controls this by renting the hills for their own use during race weekends. Only at Okemo are spectators permitted to watch from the starting line. Non-racers can participate in events by volunteering as workers and these workers can be 16 years old or older.

The race hills, length of course, and breakout times for each course are as follows:

  • Ascutney in Windsor - 2.9 miles, breakout time 3:20
  • Bolton - 1.8 miles, breakout time 1:32 (has not been run since 2004)
  • Burke in Lyndonville - 2.1 miles, breakout time 2:30
  • Okemo in Ludlow - 2.7 miles, breakout time 2:43
  • Philo in Charlotte - 1.1 miles, breakout time 1:20

Rib Mountain, Wisconsin[]

On June 15–16, 1957, the Milwaukee region of the S.C.C.A. held their first national event at the highest point in the state of Wisconsin. John Kilborn (Ferrari Monza) set fastest time of the day in 1.299 minutes. The organizers used a novel system of timing, measuring in minutes to three decimal places.[49]

Ten Sleep, Wyoming[]

First Place in the 1961 contest went to Chuck Frederick of Golden, Colo., driving a Corvette up the winding course at better than a mile a minute; time, 4:39. First Place in the 1962 contest went to Gene Mitchell of Billings, Mont., driving a Corvette over the dangerous five-mile course in 4:51.7 averaging 61.7 mph. The 1961 and 1962 information is from the 1963 Ten Sleep Canyon Sports Car Hill Climb program, inside front cover.

On August 15, 1965, Phillip Lyman, of Ten Sleep, Wyoming, won the fifth annual TenSleep Canyon hillclimb, driving a Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, in a time of 4:48.1 sec.[50]

See also[]


  1. Eagle Rock Hill Climb
  2. Climb to the Clouds
  3. Mount Equinox Hill Climb
  4. An Engineering Autobiography by William F. Milliken, Equations of Motion - Adventure, Risk and Innovation, Pages 420-424, Bentley Publishing, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8376-1570-7.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 New York Times, July 6, 1969, Page S7. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "NYTi" defined multiple times with different content
  6. S.C.C.A. Newsletter, No.13, July 31, 1954, Page 2.
  7. Road & Track, September 1957, Pages 48-49.
  8. S.C.C.A. Newsletter, No.25, Aug 10, 1956, Page 4.
  9. Sports Car, S.C.C.A. magazine, July-Aug 1957, Page 46; Road & Track, September 1957, Pages 48-49.
  10. New York Times, June 24, 1959, Page 27.
  11. New York Times, June 29, 1960, Page 41.
  12. New York Times, June 21, 1961, Page 45.
  13. 13.0 13.1 New York Times, June 24, 1963, Page 49.
  14. New York Times, July 23, 1967, Page 162.
  15. Competition Press & Autoweek, July 26, 1966, Page A.
  16. New York Times, June 19, 1957, Page 4.
  17. International Motor Cyclopaedia, Year Book-March 1908 to March 1909, Page 102, Publisher: E.E. Schwarzkopf, New York.
  18. Competition Press and Autoweek, May 27, 1967, Page 13.
  19. Competition Press and Autoweek, Nov 18, 1967, Page 10.
  20. Competition Press, March 7–20, 1964, Page 2.
  21. Competition Press, June 13–26, 1964, Pages W1. W6.
  22. Chimney Rock Park "King of the Hill"
  23. Road & Track, August 1958, Page 55.
  24. Greensboro Record, Nov 30, 1959, Page 24.
  25. Augusta Chronicle, April 25, 1960, Page 6.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Augusta Chronicle, April 26, 1961, Page 6.
  27. Augusta Chronicle, Nov 26, 1962, Page 7.
  28. Competition Press, May 25, 1963, Page 6.
  29. Augusta Chronicle, Dec 2, 1963, Page 8.
  30. Augusta Chronicle, Nov 30, 1964, Page 9; Competition Press and Autoweek, December 26, 1964, Page 5.
  31. Augusta Chronicle, April 26, 1965, Page 8.
  32. Competition Press and Autoweek, Dec 11, 1965, Page 5.
  33. Competition Press and Autoweek, May 14, 1966, Pages 1, 11.
  34. Augusta Chronicle, April 25, 1967, Section A, Page 9; Competition Press and Autoweek, May 13, 1967, Page 8.
  35. Augusta Chronicle, April 29, 1968, Page 8.
  36. The Plain Dealer, April 21, 1969, Page 66.
  37. Augusta Chronicle, May 4, 1970, Section A, Page 10; The Washington Post, Times Herald, May 4, 1970, Page C6.
  38. The Washington Post, Times Herald, May 3, 1971, Page C6.
  39. Augusta Chronicle, May 1, 1972, Section A, Page 12.
  40. Augusta Chronicle, Sept 24, 1972, Section B, Page 6.
  41. Augusta Chronicle, April 29, 1974, Page 26.
  42. Augusta Chronicle, April 28, 1975, Section A, Page 10.
  43. Augusta Chronicle, April 27, 1976, Page 4.
  44. Competition Press & Autoweek, July 23, 1966, Vol.16, No.29, Page 8. See also: The Plain Dealer, July 8, 1966, Page 19.
  45. The Plain Dealer, July 15, 1966, Page 19; Sports Car, S.C.C.A. magazine, Sept 1966, Page 21.
  46. Pennsylvania Hillclimb Association
  47. Nardone, Ralph (May 30, 2006). "Giant's Despair Hill Climb marks centennial". Northeast Business Journal (Northeast PA Business Journal). Archived from the original on 2009-06-16. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  48. Dallas Morning News, July 21, 1956, Part 1, Page 11; National Newsletter, S.C.C.A., No.25, August 10, 1956.
  49. Sports Car, S.C.C.A. magazine, Sept-Oct 1957, Pages 68-69.
  50. Competition Press & Autoweek, September 11, 1965, Page W-A.

External links[]