Empire warms to the task as winter’s revenge hits hill climb

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The Empire racing team became top dog in the Midland Hill Climb Championship last weekend (April 30-May 1).

They produced a classic exhibition of focused driving in testing conditions, braving winter’s revenge to win out at the Midland Automobile Club-organised (MAC) event.

The gathering was billed as “Speed into Spring”. The biting winds and constant showers made for a slippery track, however.

It even meant several competitors not starting or finishing the Worcestershire-based course of Shelsley.

Roll of honourwinter’s revenge hits hill climb

The Empire team’s nimble, light cars coped with these hazards more adroitly than any of the others. The team was made up of:

• Simon Fidoe: A member of the MAC, he proved that he was as good on the track as he is in the committee room. He and his trusty Empire Wraith took the coveted “Man of the Meeting” award, as well as the opening run-off

• Ed Hollier: Came runner-up in the Empire Evo

• Tom Poole and Chris Aspinall: Joined Fidoe on the 1100 Racing Car Class podium. Poole was racing a car that had just been finished a week earlier

Bill Chaplain, who built the Empire cars, paid tribute to the cars and drivers in the face of such powerful rival machinery.

Empire is no stranger to such challenges, being a firm which majors on single-seater hill climb cars and all the extras that go with them.

Other star turns

• Newbury’s Nic Mann: His 1700cc Ford BDT engine-powered Manic Beattie wowed the crowds. It employs a starter system that uses a helicopter gas turbine. He’s a well-known face here, having previously held the Sports Libre record. At the weekend he completed the hill climb in a creditable 27.02 seconds

• The Marsh brothers: Peter and Simon kept it in the family in memory of their late father Tony, a former Shelsley Walsh winner. No other competitors recorded faster times as they raced round in their spectacular DJ Firehawk racer. Just 0.5 seconds separated them

• Mike Turpin: The Midland champ kept his crown with another classy display