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Thursday, December 3, 2020


A classic enthusiast who took part in the Chateau Impney Hill Climb more than 50 years ago has come forward with his endearing memories of the event.

Chateau Impney Hill Climb veteran shares memories of 1959 event
Chateau Impney Hill Climb veteran shares memories of 1959 event

Brian Lee, aged 72, contacted his current insurer and sponsor of the event, Footman James, after he received a newsletter from the company asking for any interesting stories of previous Chateau Impney sprints.

Brian, who was 17 years old in 1959, took part in the race in his 1937 Ford 8 Hill Climb Special.

He said: “I worked on a farm in Wychbold when I was 17 and heard about the hill climb through word of mouth.  It was an amazing experience, as 100s of attendees hurtled around the course at 50 miles per hour!  Brakes weren’t like they are today but – with youth on my side – I remember it being a lot of fun.  The cars that took part were cars that were driven on a daily basis; it was an amazing spectacle.”

Brian – who lives in Oldbury in the West Midlands – still owns and drives three classic cars, a 1970 four door Morris Minor, an original signwritten – PJ Evans Ltd, Rolls Royce and Jaguar Service Department – 1972 Morris 1000 van, called Garfield, and a Jaguar XJ6 from PJ Evans Ltd, Birmingham.

A long standing customer of Footman James, Brian describes himself as ‘a petrol head through and through’, with one of his earliest memories being of stripping down an engine on his kitchen table, aged 11.  “There was oil all over the kitchen floor, my mother wasn’t happy with me!” he said.

Brian still organises rallies and attends as many events as he can; he is also the current Membership Secretary and Treasurer of The Minor LCV Register, a club dedicated to the preservation, use and restoration of all Minor LCVs, Morris and Austins.

The event is due to take place on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 July in the grounds of the French chateau-style building in Droitwich, Worcestershire.

Fifty years ago, the sprint was one of the most well regarded events on the motor sports calendar; thousands of spectators used to pack into the grounds to watch the leading lights of hill climbing do battle in the 550 yard sprint.

Now, for the first time since 1967, historic motorsport action is returning to the picturesque venue, taken over by new owners in 2012, as it aims to once again establish a formidable reputation.

Around 200 competitors in 19 categories for pre-1967 cars are expected to take to the 1,000 yard course.

David Bond, Director at Footman James said: “Brian’s memories of the Chateau Impney Hill Climb offer us a real sense of the timelessness and passion that classic enthusiasts live and breathe on a daily basis.  Brian has had a life-long love affair with classic cars and his stories of the sprint are a real testimony of the longevity of the classic movement.

“The camaraderie of the previous events looks set to infuse the 2015 one and we wish it every success this year and in the future.”

Organisers are hoping to attract up to 10,000 fans over the weekend, which will also feature a trade fair and classic car auction.

Tickets for the weekend are on sale now, with a 10 per cent discount for buying before 30 June.

Footman James

For thirty years, Footman James has continued to be one of the leading specialist insurance brokers for classic vehicle owners, collectors and professionals

Footman James has enjoyed a unique relationship with vintage and classic vehicle enthusiasts and clubs; offering policies with benefits that are important to the enthusiast.

Its policy choices include classic car and classic motorcycle as well as home insurance.  Classic owners can also insure their modern private car or modern motorcycle.

Footman James is part of Towergate, the UK’s largest independent owned insurance intermediary


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