In 1996, racing driver Paula Elstrek competed in the Victorian Hillclimb Championship at the Rob Roy Hillclimb in her home-built Suzuki-powered Piranha Formula Libre open wheeler. She smashed the record, held by Leo Bates, who had previously set three records at Rob Roy in his self-built Lobito F3 open wheeler, in 1993,1994 and 1995 when he made a time of 21.91 seconds. Elstrek’s new record, at 21.57 seconds was held for a period of 8 years, when it was taken by Andrew Howell in 2004, in a Pilbeam MP82 at 19.06 seconds.
In this video Paula Elstrek discusses the Rob Roy track, including an account of the day she set the record, as well as her racing history in general.Background
The Rob Roy Hillclimb
, Australia’s oldest purpose-built Hillclimb, was established in 1937 at Christmas Hills, about 30 kilometres from the centre of Melbourne. Hillclimbing, in which cars are driven uphill one at a time against the clock, is one of motorsport’s oldest events and was first held in 1897 in France.
Cut out of the bush, the Rob Roy course included an uphill, half-mile, graded dirt road. In 1939, the track was sealed and became one of only three bitumen-surfaced purpose-built hillclimbs in the world, the other two being the Shelsley Walsh and Prescott courses in the UK.
The Rob Roy Hillclimb attracted professionals, enthusiasts and amateurs, along with their often specially modified Bugattis, Elfins, MGs and Holdens, and has a special place in Australia’s motoring history. Drivers who competed here include Jack Brabham, Harry Firth, Stirling Moss, Jean Behra, Reg Parnell, Stan Jones, Lex Davison, Bill Patterson, Doug Whiteford, Peter Whitehead, Reg Hunt and Len Lukey, drivers who also tackled and in some cases vanquished the Formula One circuit.
In 1962, bushfires ravaged the Rob Roy course, and it lay in disuse for 30 years until the MG Car Club of Victoria secured a lease on the property and faithfully restored the track to host a bustling schedule of Hillclimb events every year. Sources:
Leon Sims, A history of Rob Roy Hillclimb - 1937 to 1961 - The Hill, The Drivers, The Cars
. And, the MG Car Club of Victoria