1981: The "Union des Pilotes", Luxembourg...
In 1981, following the temporary ban on rallies in the Grandy Duchy of Luxembourg on account of a serious accident that occurred during the "Tour de Luxembourg automobile", a few fans of motor sport in general and rallies in particular got together to found the "Union des Pilotes", or racing drivers' union, with the aim of perpetuating this discipline within the Grand Duchy.
Under the direction of Nico Scheier, a driver and co-driver himself at the time, still young but already experienced, this newborn among the motor sport clubs of Luxembourg held its first little rally on German territory, just over the border with Luxembourg, at Nittel (Moselle) at the beginning of April 1982. Subsequently, several attempts were launched to hold a rally again on the territory of Luxembourg. However, for lack of an insurer prepared to take the risk, it was not until 1985 that a rather novel idea allowed a timid but very spectacular rebirth of this discipline in the Grand Duchy: instead of using public roads, the Union de Pilotes opted for a "rally sprint" formula, on private property in the form of a quarry, an event which from its very first edition met with great acclaim from both spectators and drivers alike.
There followed two further editions of this "Schottersprint" ("sprint on gravel"), in 1986 and 1987 (this last edition, run in winter conditions, saw the very first grand victory of Belgian rally driver Bruno Thiry, who was later to carve out a career in the WRC). However, following the death of the owner of the venue, the Union des Pilotes reluctantly had to resign itself to abandoning this very interesting formula.
1988-2014: Eschdorf, the European Hill Race...
As it was still not possible to get a "real" rally insured in Luxembourg (right up to the 1990s), Nico Scheier and his team decided to organise a hill climb, a discipline that at the time was very widespread in the Grand Duchy. The first edition of the Eschdorf hill climb took place in 1988 and, under the name of "European Hill Race", the event went on to gain international renown among both spectators and drivers. Since then, 26 editions have taken place, around half of them counting towards both the Luxembourg and the German hill climb championships, each time with many prestigious foreign drivers coming from all over Europe as "guest stars". These included the late French Lionel Regal (6-time winner), as well as specialists such as Switzerland's Marcel Steiner and Fredy Amweg, Frenchmen Hervé Bayard, Christian Debias, Fabien Frantz and Nicolas Schatz, German Herbert Stenger (who passed away this year just a few days before the 2014 edition), and Luxembourg's own Christian Hauser and his son David (who celebrated his first overall victory in 2012, which was also the first world victory of a GP2 car in hill climb).
...and the 1st edition of the FIA Hill Climb Masters
After the successful organisation of the 26th European Hill Race at the beginning of May, which saw the victory of French champion Nicolas Schatz, with a tiny lead of 35 thousandths over Swiss champion Eric Berguerand (who set a new record for the course in 48,990 seconds) after the two best times set by each driver were added together, the Union des Pilotes, in close collaboration with the Automobile Club du Luxembourg and the FIA, will this year, on this same course at Eschdorf, stage the very first edition of the FIA Hill Climb Masters.
Union des Pilotes, organiser of the 2014 FIA Hill Climb Masters at Eschdorf
Image: Eschdorf, May 2014 (Boesen)