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Someone should make a game about: Hillclimbing

Peak performance.

Hello, and welcome to our new series which picks out interesting things that we'd love someone to make a game about.

This isn't a chance for us to pretend we're game designers, more an opportunity to celebrate the range of subjects games can tackle and the sorts of things that seem filled with glorious gamey promise.

Check out our 'Someone should make a game about' archive for all our pieces so far.

Motor racing is a sport of extremes, which might be why I've always found it's at its best when its format is stretched to either limit. The only thing that can really match the madness and majesty of a 24 hour race, those spectacular follies that put people and their machines through the ringer while serving up the most incredible stories, is the 24 seconds it takes for someone to get from one end of Shelsley Walsh to the other. It's another form of madness, one whose outlet is a short, sharp rush of near-impossible speed.

You might know hillclimbing from its premier event Pikes Peak, that scramble up into Colorado clouds, or even from the multi-million pound pageant that graces the lawns of Goodwood Estate every summer. Really, though, it's a certain branch of hillclimb that fires me up as much as the dropping of the tricolor at the Circuit de la Sarthe. It's the one that convenes on such homely venues as Bouley Bay, Wiscombe Park, Gurston Down and Shelsley Walsh.

They've been pounding that particular piece of road in Worcestershire since near the turn of the last century, and it's there that you'll find the essence of this most peculiar pastime, where mad bastard motor cars tear up a small country lane. It makes for some very British heroes; heavyset middle-aged men who sip from a Thermos before strapping themselves into a spindly chassis serving up 600bhp via an old F1 engine. It's as eccentric, in its own way, as cheese-rolling.

Hillclimbs in the UK are uniquely short affairs - sub-30 second sprints are the norm - which gives the pursuit over here a shape of its own. Detail counts, the short space you're given on narrow tarmac demanding to be explored and exploited down to the very inch. And when each and every second counts for so much, for competitors each tick of the stopwatch must stretch out like long hours. It's motorsport in a microcosm; watch Scott Moran devour Shelsley Walsh in 23.80 seconds and you'll find as much excitement and drama as you would over the course of a Grand Prix on any other Sunday afternoon.

How quick it is to get to the essence of it all, and how efficient it is in delivering its thrills. And how that all trickles down into the paddock as you admire the machinery that's been conjured up to undertake such a task, homespun diffusers and hastily attached turbochargers all cobbled together in a cramped workshop during the twilight hours. Maybe I'm getting carried away with a romantic image of it all, but hillclimbing seems to be one of the purest forms of a sport that's already filled with romance. Daft, dangerous and electrifying, hillclimbing is motorsport at its very best.

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About the Author
Martin Robinson avatar

Martin Robinson


Martin worked at Eurogamer from 2011 to 2023. He has a Gradius 2 arcade board and likes to play racing games with special boots and gloves on.

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