A tradition hard wired in the Maltese racing community’s bloodline. An adrenaline pumping sport, that won my admiration when I was just a 7 year old kid, fantasizing what it would be like sitting behind the wheel of an Escort Mark 2 driving up hill like a mad man.
Hill climbing as a sport finds its roots in France, back in 1897, and is the oldest form of motorsport in human history. The longest running hill climbing event is the one in Worcestershire, which has been continually held since 1905.
In Malta, hill climbing was first introduced early in the 50s, and was organized in Ghar Lapsi. The sport was mildly popular, but it wasn’t until the 70s when the sport picked up in popularity and shaped the future of this sport locally. By now the hill climb was organized in Manikata, with cars ranging from Escorts to Minis shredding rubber on the hot Maltese asphalt.
Nowadays the sport is being organized by the Island Car Club in accordance with the European Hillclimbing Championship regulations. I must admit; I haven’t been present to a hill climbing event since the 90s, but I decided to rekindle with the sport last year, and boy have things changed. The event is organized very professionally, with marshals, security officers, and other staff, making sure everything goes to plan. Some old timers are still present, including Hillman Imps, and Escorts Mark 2, which go head to head with youngsters like the Lotus Elise or the Honda S2000.
Everything from the smell of burning rubber, to the sound of cars racing uphill gave me chills down my spine. This event really is the truest form of motorsport which bonds man to machine.
Below is my personal collection of photographs from the Hill Climb in Mtahleb dating February 1982.