Hill climbs can be a bit of an odd duck in the SCCA world. They’re not on purpose-built circuits like track events, and they’re not in empty parking lots like autocross. Most of the time, they’re on public roads (similar to RoadRally), but with hill climbs you needn’t obey the rules of the road – which means closing the road to traffic. As you can imagine, that latter part doesn’t just happen. It takes planning, coordination and, often, the calming of fears from local officials who might not understand the safety measures involved in an event. But done right, a hill climb event can be win-win for everyone – especially the surrounding community.
Without a doubt, the Pine Mountain HillClimb Presented by Summit Racing, Backroads of Appalachia, and Grassroots Motorsports magazine has done it right. A combination of SCCA leadership, Region involvement, and a community group that is using motorsports to bring tourism to an area that has been down on its luck is the equation the event had been looking for.
Grassroots Motorsports dove deep into the story about a number of local groups and the SCCA working toward that common goal, and the plan to expand a singular event into a larger series of hill climbs in the area.
The article sets the stage quite well:
Shaping Our Appalachian Region, aka SOAR, is a nonprofit organization looking to increase prosperity for 54 counties in eastern Kentucky. Its executive director, Colby Hall, says the effects of the coal industry’s decline have extended beyond those who worked in the mines.
“There were around 30,000 coal jobs around the region,” Hall says. “What doesn’t get represented are all the support industries – mechanics, technicians, lawyers, all these types of vendors – that coal supported. Indirectly, coal supported probably three times the amount of jobs in the coalfields. Even our core institutions, like schools and hospitals, were affected by the outmigration. It hurt everybody.”
Photo by Jim Cundiff