DEEP DIVE INTO FIA'S HISTORY: THE CREATION OF THE EUROPEAN HILL CLIMB CHAMPIONSHIP | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

DEEP DIVE INTO FIA'S HISTORY: THE CREATION OF THE EUROPEAN HILL CLIMB CHAMPIONSHIP

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28.11.22

Racing in the mountains and hills to test the machines and the skills of the drivers began as soon as motor racing appeared. And Hill Climbing has continued to this day, remaining a very popular and accessible form of motor sport. Two races are vying for the honour of having been the very first Hill Climb event in history.

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On 31 January 1897, a competition took place between Nice and La Turbie, on a 17km course, won by André Michelin at an average speed of just over 30kph. Nice-La Turbie was the third stage of a 3-stage race from Marseille-Fréjus-Nice-La Turbie, so its definition as a Hill Climb event is sometimes disputed.

On 27 November 1898, a race was held in Chanteloup-les-Vignes, near Paris, which was called a "Hill Climb race" and organised by Paul Meyan, editor-in-chief of the "La France Automobile" magazine. The race was won by Belgium’s Camille Jenatzy, in an electric car of his own design, only a few months before he made history by being the first driver to exceed the speed of 100kph with his well-known "Jamais Contente".

Just over 30 years later, an International Hill Climb Championship was established. In the FIA archives, documents show that in 1929 the Automobile Club of Switzerland made a proposal to the International Sport Commission of the FIA (then Association Internationale des Automobiles Clubs Reconnus) to create a European Hill Climb Championship. The idea was supported by the Commission and the AC of Switzerland was given the task of drawing up the regulations for subsequent approval. Original copies of the 1930 regulations are in the FIA archives. The European Hill Climb Championship still exists and as such, is the oldest FIA Championship still in operation.

On 11 May 1930, the first of 10 rounds of the European Hill Climb Championship was organised between Zbraslav and Jiloviste, south of Prague, by AC Tchecoslovakia on a 5.6 km course. Several famous names in motor sport at the time were at the start, including Rudolf Carraciola (Mercedes) and Hans Stuck von Villiez (Austro Daimler). A report on this event can be found in issue #15 of the Revue Internationale de l'Automobile, available in the FIA archives.