Australia’s Historic Hillclimb, one of the first three purpose built hillclimbs in the world - along with Shelsley Walsh and Prescott Hill in the UK - went under large renovations. On March 19, we’d be able to witness the refreshed Rob Roy and the beginning of a new era for the track.
From the track to the paddock, Rob Roy had been revived, and the 'Rob Roy Revival' was the official opening of one of the world's oldest hillclimbs in its new form.
For starters, the gravel road from the entry to the start line has now all been replaced with smooth asphalt.
The 'Wayne Rushton Hill' is also looking fresh too, with permanent garage tents for the competitors and their machines. The Pergola was also extended twice for some relaxed meals among the loud classic racecars powering up the hill.
The track itself also went under a few adjustments with a new race mixture to increase grip. And drivers would need as much grip as possible to get a fast run on the smooth, fast yet tricky Rob Roy.
As the green light flashed, all the focus for the drivers would be about getting off the line with as much acceleration, but also with as little wheelspin as possible, to maximise their overall top speed up the hill.
Aiming for the dirt on the inside of the blind turn 1, they race over the rise before heading downhill past the pits.
Donwhill and across the causeway, the drivers downshifting before reaching the highest gradient part of the track.
Past the marshal post and spectators, previously it would have been foot to the floor around the long uphill left-hander, but not with the recent track upgrades.
In the middle of the second of the uphill sections, a bus stop style, left-right-left chicane had been paved. This would prove tricky, not only as now there would be more emphasis on acceleration rather than top speed, but also as drivers would try to find the quickest line through the new section, making sure not to knock down the bollards and avoid a penalty.
After exiting the chicane, it would be all steam ahead to the finish line, before heading down the newly paved and now entirely separate from the track, return road.
It would be Laurie Bennett in his 1971 Elfin 600 that would set the inaugural track record (with the added chicane) with a time of 26.66 seconds. Darren Visser in his 1977 Bates Cyclo only five tenths behind Bennett.
This new return road is what I found most impressive of Rob Roy's upgrades. Before, it was a sheer drop from the armco barriers on the causeway, but they've moved tons of dirt to create a road, so cars aren't directed back onto the track and into the pits, which used to delay runs at previous events.
Other than watching cars take on the fresh tarmac at Rob Roy, there was plenty else to do at the revival.
With Rob Roy being under the MGCC (MG Car Club) there was obviously going to be a large collection of MG's in the trackside car show.
After checking out the clean collection of classic and vintage cars, you could grab yourself some memorabilia for your garage, or do what I found most people doing, watching the drivers line up for their run, getting as close as possible to these purebred racing machines.
Overall, the Rob Roy Revival was a fantastic day to begin Rob Roy's next historic chapter, and I cannot ignore all the fundraising for the upgrades done by the MGCC and all the work completed by the infamous 'Wednesday Warriors', who worked more than every Wednesday to not only help maintain the track but attend to the renovations. We now get to enjoy and experience the next stories from Australia's historic hillclimb.