In 2014, Stratstone and Shelsley Walsh celebrated a continued events partnership that has spanned five varied and successful exclusive motoring experiences across the summer period. Shelsley Walsh is an iconic motoring site, constituting the first purpose-built motor racing track in history which has hosted Midland Automobile Club (MAC) Speed Hill Climbs since 1905. Today the hallowed track is still raced over by vehicles both classic and innovatory.
It is a natural partner for Stratstone, having shared a passion for motoring since Stratstone was established in 1921. Stratstone founder Ernest Instone won the very first hill climb held at Shelsley Walsh in 1905. Brands such as Aston Martin forged their racing pedigree on the hill climb, and the events serve as an ideal day out to build relationships between customers, manufacturers and dealerships. The on-site Stratstone restaurant serves as a great place to meet or relax throughout.
Most days also host a 'Pre-Shelsley' activity, supported by a partner venue which serves to amaze and entertain the day's guests. Activities in the 2014 year have included a factory tour of the hallowed Morgan factory (where cars are still being produced today), the striking Eastnor Castle and the National Motorcycle Museum. Here is a look back at some of the events which have made Stratstone's '14 Shelsley Walsh calendar so special.
May - Eastnor Castle visit with Land Rover
Guests of Stratstone Land Rover were treated to an Eastnor Castle visit, which has strong historic links with Land Rover. Eastnor is renowned for its extreme and varied terrain which makes it an ideal testing spot for off-road vehicles - something which Land Rover has used it for since 1962.
All new models are developed and tested here, which includes a steep hill named after its ex-chief engineer Spen King. All new dealership staff are trained here at their prestigious facility, which gives a valuable insight in to the history of Land Rover and their testing.
After a brief presentation, guests of Land Rover had a chance to tour the insides of the Castle and explore the grounds of Eastnor, enjoying the picturesque Herefordshire backdrop. Visitors also had the opportunity to explore the chilli festival being held on the grounds which hosted a variety of stalls selling different produce and a literally mouth-watering chilli eating competition.
Guests were then chauffeured back to Shelsley Walsh to experience the exhilaration of the first event of the season - 'Speed in to Spring'. The hotly-contested event pits racers against each other in the 1000-yard climb. This year the excitement was centred on a photo finish in the Midland Hill Climb Championship - with driver Will Hall beating 2012 British champion Trevor Willis by just one hundredth of a second.
Robert Lancaster-Gaye topped the Roadgoing series over 2000cc class in his Porsche 996 GT3, with Peter Cox coming second in his Subaru Impreza. Guests were also treated to the Porsche Club of Great Britain Championship which was won by Paul Howells in a 911 RSR.
As always, guests were free to watch the multitude of climbing events and all the action from the roadside, as well as visit the Stratstone restaurant within the courtyard for a complimentary lunch. Visitors were also invited to explore the racing paddock area in the heart of the action, and could take a stroll up the famed Shelsley Walsh hill in the sunshine. It kicked off the year in style and the day was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended, setting a great precedent for the events that followed.
June - Morgan Factory Tour with Morgan, Ferrari and Aston Martin
At our next event, guests of Stratstone Morgan, Aston Martin and Ferrari arrived at the Morgan Factory in Malvern, Worcestershire to start their day with an exclusive tour of the factory.
Established in 1909, Morgan have been a staple of British sports car manufacture for over 100 years. Throughout that time, every single car has been coachbuilt to exacting standards. The unique tour offered a step back in time to traditional car building methods, blending hand-make craftsmanship with modern sports car pedigree.
Here, guests were able to witness the continuation of a long-standing tradition as they produced bespoke Morgan sports cars by hand. Highlights of the tour include a 60-year old press which is used to produce wheel arches as well as the aluminium chassis of models such as the Plus 8, whilst the guests of Aston Martin, Morgan and Ferrari saw first-hand the amount of time and dedication that goes in to creating the chassis and drivetrain of each vehicle.
Each guest was handed a wooden 'Morgan' carving to take away as a small gift and a reminder or their experience.
Guests were then driven over in a Morgan-accompanied convoy to the Shelsley Walsh hill climb, where Morgan models such as the Plus 8, Super Aero Sport and 3 Wheeler models were put on display in the grounds.
Last but not least was the Best of British race meeting which once again provided a thrilling finish, with just four hundredths of a second between the top two. It was also the first visit for the season to Shelsley Walsh for the Avon Tyres MSA British Hill Climb Championship and the TTC Group Hill Climb Leader Championship.
Good racing conditions ensured that it was also a day of record setting with some of the fastest runs in Shelsley Walsh history; with Richard Jones driving a 29.1 second run in the pre-1971 racing car class, whilst Jos Goodyear drove and impressive 23.67 second run In the two-litre racing car class.
July - Classic Motor Cars tour with Jaguar at Shelsley Walsh
At our third event of the season, guests of Stratstone Jaguar were treated to a Jaguar enthusiast's dream - a tour of the Classic Motor Cars Company. For over 20 years, CMC have been restoring classic Jaguars to their prime, including the famous E-Type, but also other iconic models such as the XJS and XK120 which have fallen into disrepair. They also deal with simple servicing such as oil changes and check-ups, in addition to rebuilding some of the classic motors we know and love.
With every vehicle being restored to original Jaguar specification, CMC have quickly become the leading Jaguar restoration company and now occupy a huge 60,000 sq.ft. facility in Shropshire. Our guests were lucky enough to be given a tour of the facility, being shown around the workshop, body shop, and trim shop. They were also able to see the team working on and restoring popular classic cars, before listening to a presentation about CMC and its history.
Guests were then driven over to the Shelsley Walsh site in style, accompanied by a Jaguar C-type and a Jaguar D-type which they had an opportunity to ride in.
At Shelsley Walsh, it was the Midland Automobile Club's 'Classic Nostalgia' weekend, and visitors were invited to wear period dress to match the racing theme. Period bands, dancing and barbeques offered entertainment in the courtyard. Here they were joined by a huge number of classic cars that were on show from Morgan and MG owners clubs, whilst thousands of privately owned classics lined the car park all adding to the retro atmosphere.
However, the biggest news of the weekend was that none other than racing legend Sir Stirling Moss was in attendance. One lucky visitor bought a charity raffle ticket and won a once in a lifetime trip up the famous hill in a multi-million pound classic Ferrari driven by the iconic racer himself.
The Concours de Elegance was a competition open to the first 100 cars that entered through the gates, and owner Roy Powell was crowned overall winner in his pristine Aston Martin DB2-4 Mk III. Roy originally travelled all the way over from Teeside with no intention to enter the competition but ended up becoming the overall winner - and at the same time reminding us all of Aston Martin's hill climb heritage.
Guests of Stratstone Jaguar saw legendary racing driver Stirling Moss driving up the oldest working race track in the world. They also enjoyed thousands of classic period cars, outfits and bands which ensured that this really was a day to remember for all involved.
August - Team Members' Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb
The fourth Stratstone Shelsley Walsh event was put on for team members and partner companies,200 of which were invited to the 'Championship Challenge' race meeting in August. The meeting is generally one of the biggest on the calendar, attracting full capacity both in terms of crowds and championship race contenders.
Hospitality for the event was held on the grounds of the cottage, with guest being joined by some iconic models, old and new, which make Shelsley Walsh so popular with motor enthusiasts.
Guests could watch all the action from the comfort of the Stratstone hospitality area, whilst also being treated to a three-course lunch and all day refreshments in the ideal racing weather. During lunchtime at the hill, former champions and constructors got together for a photo in the picturesque paddock, overlooking the famous countryside home to Shelsley Walsh.
On the track, the Championship challenge was marked by the visit of several groups, such as the Avon Tyres/ TTC group MSA British Hill Climb Championship and the Hill Climb Leaders Championship, in addition to involving a round of the Midland Hill Climb.
Driver Jos Goodyear broke the 2000cc class record with a storming run of 22.86 seconds, which won him the man of the meeting award.
Stratstone supported the Hope for Tomorrow charity throughout the day, a national cancer charity dedicated to bringing cancer treatment closer to homes.
September - National Motorcycle Museum with Harley Davidson and Triumph
For the fifth and final Stratstone motoring experience with Shelsley Walsh, 48 guests from Stratstone Harley Davidson and Stratstone Triumph met at the National Motorcycle Museum. They were split in to two groups and given a tour of the entire facility.
The National Motorcycle museum opened in 1984 with a collection of over 350 Motorcycles, and now includes award-winning conference venues and banqueting facilities which are visited by around 250,000 visitors every year.
The museum features exhibits such as '60 glorious years of motorcycle manufacturing' in addition to the 650 machines that the museum now holds in pristine condition.
The museum is a testament to the history of motorcycle production in Britain and serves to inspire and amaze special guests before their trip to Shelsley Walsh. The convoy set off for the iconic hill climb with the Harley Davidson Hog Chapter Captain, before parking their motorcycles in the V.I.P cottage area ready for the day of racing ahead.
The Midland Automobile Club finalised their season as they hosted the Autumn Finale meeting, which provided testing conditions for drivers in slippery weather.
Driver Richard Prior clinched his 5th Pirelli Ferrari championship in his F355, whilst Stephen Hopkins took the title for the Paul Matty Sports Cars Lotus Championship in his Lotus Elise S1.
Importantly for our Harley Davidson and Triumph guests, riders of the National Motor Cycle Hill Championships also competed, with wins for Tom Short on a Honda CRF and Paul Jeffery on a KTM RC8.
All in all, guests were delighted with a Motorcycle-themed day which encompassed the motorcycling history of Britain, before riding in convoy to watch some classic cycles in action. The event rounded off a very successful season for both Stratstone and Shelsley Walsh which we can't wait to do all over again in 2015 with our valued customers.