It’s a strange thing to realize, but you can absolutely have exciting motorsport action without speed. I know that seems ridiculous at first; isn’t speed kind of an inherent quality of racing? Eh, sometimes, sure! But sometimes not! A perfect example of this is this video I happened to stumble upon of this year’s Cotswold Clouds car trial. These trials are run on privately-owned dirt roads in woods and include some genuinely bonkers sections, like the one I want to show you today — a hill called, with vigorous and unashamed Britishness, Crooked Mustard. This video of all these fantastic cars – things like Suzuki X90s and Reliant Scimitar SS1s and Duttons and Mark I Escorts and a delightful number of air-cooled Beetles – scrambling and grabbing and just trying so damn hard to get up that steep, leafy, unforgiving mud chute of a hill is just so exciting to watch. You’ll be rooting and cheering for these little guys to get up there, but be warned: most don’t! Still, trust me, this will suck you in. And you’ll love it.
Here, I’m too excited, just watch this:
Damn, that is one difficult mothertrusting hill! Hardly any cars actually made it up there, and the way this event is scored, that sort of failure can earn you points. Yes, earn, because of course this is all overcomplicated, scoring-wise:
A Car Trial is a single venue event, held on private land, with 6-8 sections for competitors to negotiate. These sections are subdivided 12-0 and involve undulation. The further up a section you get the lower your score. If you get all the way up a section you get a clear (0). The winner is the person with the lowest score at the end of the day. If you stop on a hill you fail the hill at the number on the next post. If the centre of your front wheels are beyond a number e.g. 5 then you score a 4 as you are in the 4 section until you pass the number 4 post. If you pass the number 1 post you have cleared the section.
Well, maybe it’s not that complicated, you want a lower score, but still, after “involve undulation” my brain kinda fogged over, anyway.
I so wanted one of those Beetles to make it! A few came really close, and I think one of the few that did make it was a Beetle-based dune buggy kind of thing. Oh, speaking of VW-based dune buggy kind of things, I loved this tiny, seemingly home-built little special that uses a Beetle chassis:
You know what did make it? A Smart Roadster!
It’s also great to see how everyone bounces up and down in their little cars, hoping to get those skinny tires to dig in and wrest some traction from the slick, uncaring Earth, flinging aside leaves and mulch, or just cooking them into tire smoke as they try and try and try.
This all looks like a blast. I’d love to do it some day. Anyway, enjoy that video, and don’t be afraid to cheer, loudly.
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I watched this over the weekend! I love British hillclimbs.
Was this not what the Lotus & was made for, these Trial competitions?
Yes, the lotus mk1 (and mk2) were Phil’s based on Austin 7’s specifically for trials runs.
And the video is already gone. Is it preserved anywhere else?
Kills me that the litigious environment makes this kind of event impossible in the US. These things should be happening every weekend here in the Smoky Mountains.
Happens in Iowa, no issues. Yes, we have steep bluffs, around 700′ of climb.