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Seven Days: Vermont Car Blog

October 27, 2008

Mt. Philo Hillclimb

Ed. note: Seven Days Intern Will Ives went to his first Hillclimb last weekend and wrote this post for Good Carma.

Hill3 Every October the Sports Car Club of Vermont sponsors the New England Hillclimb Association’s Mt. Philo race. For anyone unfamiliar with a hillclimb, it’s essentially a car race where each car, one at a time, races up a narrow mountain road with victory going to the person with the best track time. With cars whipping around the winding course at speeds averaging 60+ miles per hour, this autumn tradition is not for the faint of heart.

This past Sunday I was given an opportunity to experience my first hillclimb. As a college intern from out of state, I had no idea what to expect when I first arrived at Mt. Philo. Needless to say the October foliage of Vermont is not the normal backdrop to enjoy a car race, but it served as an aesthetically pleasing way to spend a flawless Sunday morning. Racers take their finish times seriously, but when the racing is not going on there is a real sense of camaraderie. Telling jokes, sharing pointers and comparing improvements made to their vehicles is all part of this tight knit community of passionate racing fans.

Hill1 I was excited when I was given a chance to ride as a passenger in one of the cars during a “fam run” or familiarization run. I was a little uneasy about the idea at first, but I thought better of it and realized that it was too cool of a chance to pass up. We only hit about 50 miles per hour on our way up Mt. Philo, but it was enough to raise my blood pressure a little and give me an appreciation for the excitement the sport has to offer.

After the fam run, the actual racing was getting set to start and I was assigned to help work one of the checkpoints on the course to see the action up close. I have to admit that it seems the car is going much faster riding in the front seat in comparison to watching them pass by the checkpoint. As one club member explained to me “racing is a lot like sex, it's fun to watch but a lot more fun to participate in.”

Hill2 The best part about the hill climb was the sincerity of the racer's motives. With no prize money awarded to the winner, the biggest reward is bragging rights. The uncommercialized hillclimb subculture gathers racing fans of all types to share their enthusiasm for the sport they love.


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What kind of safety modifications are required for the unprepared class?

Joey Kale

All you need to compete with ANY unprepared car is a 2.5lb fire extinguisher mounted with a metal bracket(within reach), and a SA-2000 or newer SA- helmet. M-helmets are not good enough..

and you need to wear your seatbelt..

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