A precursor to the intended return of the famed Race to the Sky
Hayden Paddon and Paddon Rallysport Group have launched a brand-new motorsport event called the Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb which will run for the first time in March 2020 in the spectacular Nevis region of Central Otago.
The Golden 1200 Hillclimb is intended to be a sister event to the iconic Race to the Sky which Paddon Rallysport is working hard to bring back to life in 2021.
Paddon Rallysport, managed by the Kiwi rally star, has partnered with sponsor Ben Nevis Station and will manage and promote the event. The hillclimb uses 6km of the Nevis Road, a remote high-country route between Bannockburn and Kingston, with Ben Nevis Station featuring as the service park and hillclimb start. The inaugural event is scheduled to run 7-8 March next year.
They have enlisted the help of Eastern Southland Car Club, Queenstown Car Club and Central Otago Car Club to run the event. Roger Laird, from the Eastern Southland Car Club, who was Clerk of the Course for several editions of the famed Race to the Sky hillclimb in the Cardrona Valley, will take on this role for the Golden 1200 Hillclimb.
Paddon says: “I hope we can see these two fantastic Central Otago hillclimb events alternating with each other, but there’s a lot of work to do yet, as well as plenty of support for the idea of running Race to the Sky again.”
Paddon describes the designated section of the steep gravel road as “…magic. These six kilometres offer a mixture of fast and wide, and tight and narrow.”
“I can’t wait to drive it at full speed,” he added, confirming his intention to compete in the event as well as co-ordinate the event management team and organising clubs.
Paddon says: “This year I started a partnership with Ben Nevis Station and their incredible accommodation facilities in the middle of the Nevis Valley, and right from the start, I have been in awe of the road and this spectacular Central Otago high country landscape. After some interest from the farm owners Phil and Aaron, we have gathered a lot of motivation to make this event happen.
“I believe that our team at Paddon Rallysport can create something special with this event, and the inaugural Golden 1200 Hillclimb is just the start of what will become an iconic New Zealand motorsport event.”
“We hope to attract some of the top hillclimb cars from around the country but also cater the event for all cars, classes and drivers as we hope to have at least 60 entries. Spectator access will be free for the launch year and the spectator zones enjoy some of the most breath-taking scenery anywhere in the world.”
Those who sponsor and compete in the inaugural Golden 1200 Hillclimb will have first invitations for the possible return of Race to the Sky in 2021.
The Golden 1200 Hillclimb – so named for the golden tussock-covered Central Otago landscape and as a reference to the Nevis Valley’s goldmining history, and the 1200 metre elevation at the hillclimb’s finish line – will be a two-day event with three runs for all competitors both days. The route climbs from Ben Nevis Station near the Nevis River up the road to the finish line, still on the opposite side of the hill from Bannockburn. The fastest time from each day will count towards the competitor’s final results, the intention being to put greater emphasis on each run but also allow for any issues or car malfunctions that may hamper a competitor’s attempt at the 6km hillclimb. All competitors gather at the top of the route when they have completed their runs, and they will all travel back to the start and service area in a controlled group at specified times in the schedule.
Much of the hillclimb route will be visible from prime spectator areas near the top of the hillclimb with access and parking via the Nevis Road from Bannockburn.
Paddon says: “It’s one of the best spectating roads in the country so we hope spectators will make the most of this opportunity to come and experience some of New Zealand’s most amazing high-country scenery and some great motorsport action.”
The event organising team is currently working on the regulations and aims to have these available before Christmas. Expressions of interest are now open and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb will be available on the Paddon Rallysport Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paddonrallysport/ and website www.paddonrallysport.co.nz.
by Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications