Lou Molina was one of the patrons of the present Rob Roy Hillclimb, and a legend of local motorsport culture. He first started in motor racing in 1938, and was the Alpine Rally Champion in 1957 and competed in the Australian Grand Prix in 1953 and 1958, and the NZ Grand Prix in 1954. Molina also competed in three Armstrong 500s at Phillip Island, managing to finish third in one event despite rolling his vehicle five laps before the finish.
He built and owned a large number of well-known cars, one of which, an MG Special, features in this short interview with David Bell, the car’s present owner, interviewed at the Victorian Historic Racing Register event at the Rob Roy Hillclimb April 22nd, 2012.
Lou Molina’s parents arrived from Italy and settled in Melbourne in 1910, introducing Italian food to Melbourne and eventually establishing a flourishing food empire. Lou joined the family business, and began his apprenticeship at Molina’s Restaurant at 55 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. He is probably best known as the co-proprietor, with his brother Joe, of the Imperial Hotel opposite Parliament House in Spring Street, and later, for the Molina Hotels.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