This article first appeared in as a feature on GrassrootsMotorsports.com. Our partners at Grassroots Motorsports Magazine are very supportive of everything we do, but chipped in on a new regional event this past weekend and we wanted to make sure you saw the event from their eyes. Please check out additional GRM content at their website and consider subscribing to the magazine, at a discounted rate if you're an SCCA member.
Sometimes a motorsports event just needs the right allies to come together. The SCCA Pine Mountain HillClimb by Grassroots Motorsports quickly went from idea to green flag thanks to the help of Backroads of Appalachia. This nonprofit group’s mission: Replace some of the loss of coal jobs by bringing in tourism and motorsports events.
“Backroads of Appalachia is a nonprofit that is all about economic development through motorsports—like motorcycle events, rallies and hillclimbs in the Appalachia region,” explains Erik Hubbard, the group’s director. “We cover all of eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia and some of eastern Tennessee.
Our concept is really simple and clear: We want this area to be the mecca of motorsports for anything going on in the United States. We don’t have a lot of race tracks, but what we do have is a lot of county and state parks and plenty of roads for hillclimbs and rally car racing.”
"We have lots of ways to bring motorsports to a community that doesn’t have a race track,” noted Heyward Wagner, the SCCA’s senior director of Rally/Solo and experiential programs.
Backroads of Appalachia got funding through a grant plus support from the city of Pineville and state of Kentucky, both of which had officials at the event. Then add in more local support, from Friday night’s welcome party in downtown Pineville to the catfish and burger dinner Saturday evening. The event made the local news Saturday and Sunday.
Support for the event from the motorsports community came from Grassroots Motorsports and Haltech.
The inaugural event took place May 1-2 in the Pine Mountain State Resort Park near Pineville, Kentucky—right in the southeastern corner of the commonwealth. Nearly 100 competitors filled the grid, with entries coming from as far away as Florida, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
Three SCCA regions collaborated to pull off this event: East Tennessee Region, Blue Ridge Region and Central Carolina Regions. The thinking was that while the event was officially held in one region, the hillclimb experience and mentoring of the other regions would lead to a successful weekend–while planting seeds for more events in the area.
Words by Tim Suddard
Image by Perry Bennett