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Run to the hill

The Prescott American Autumn Classic has everything that a fan of American classic cars could want, and more

The Prescott American Autumn Classic is a celebration of everything stateside, from classic muscle cars to up-to-date pickup trucks.

Taking place on the hill climb course set in the heart of Gloucestershire, the event attracts people from all walks of life, with everyone bringing something different to the one-day event.

The Prescott House and Estate was acquired by the Bugatti Owner’s Club in 1936, with the intention of building a hill climb course. Thankfully, it followed through with its plans, and the route was opened on April 10 1938.

Now in the present day, hill climbs are still immensely popular, both with drivers and spectators.

The first thing that strikes you when visiting a hill climb event is just how narrow the track is. A tiny stretch of tarmac draped over the hillside, it’s tricky to see how anything could travel up it at speed.

The second thing that hits you is the noise. This is especially apparent at the American Autumn Classic, as the air is filled with bellows from classic – and modern – V8 engines. It’s a sound that has dominated motorsport for years, and is certainly enough to disturb the quiet peace of the Gloucestershire countryside for miles around.

Not only are hill climbs about the track itself, but also about everything that surrounds it.

That’s why you’ll find people in period dress, along with live bands and all manner of attractions. A standout at this year’s American Autumn Classic was the oldest surviving wall of death “the Demon Drone”. This saw riders on 1920 Indian motorcycles perform daring stunts at high speed.

Some quite amazing vehicles attended the event. They included a 1934 Ford Hot Rod, 1923 Ford T Bucket and all manner of Cadillacs. The best part about all of these vehicles is that they run and are each driven up the hill – with drivers giving no sympathy to their machines in the quest for a quick time.

Even as a spectator, it’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of a quick time with large timers situated along the route giving instant feedback as to the success of a driver’s run.

What are the best things to look out for then?

Well, when given the opportunity to have a look at the parked competitors’ cars, make sure you take your time with each one. Every car has an individual story, and it is these that you’ll bring home with you well after the event has finished.

If you can, get talking to some of the drivers. They have a fantastic insight into the hill climb, as well as the cars themselves. Part of the appeal of the hill climb isn’t just the cars, but also the people behind the wheel of them too.

The American Autumn Classic might be one of the last events in Prescott’s calendar, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on the excitement, drama and high-speed drives that hill climbs are known for.

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