Petrolheads are to make the pilgrimage to the Harewood Hillclimb circuit – 50 years after they first burned rubber there.
Jim Johnstone, who was 22 when he first pulled up at Harewood’s start line, will don his helmet and overalls once again to take on the historic track with 19 other drivers that drove at the hill’s first event in 1962 next weekend.
The Harewood Hillclimb, which is run as a time trial where drivers compete to get up the hill in the fastest time, will celebrate a half century of action on September 22 and 23.
In an Austin Healey Sprite gifted to him by his father, Jim, now 72, was one of around 80 drivers to first tackle the 1,200ft-long course.
Jim, who is retired and living in Brafferton, said: “It was all very exciting as there was nothing like it in the area.”
Opening the meeting should be motorsport enthusiast Arnold Burton, who first purchased the farm that the track is now built on. Members of the track’s hillclimb club eventually stumped up the money to buy him out and Harewood Hill Limited was formed and continues to own the site to this day.
The course, which is a stage in the National Hillclimb Championships, is one of around eight similar tracks in the country and during a time trial, cars can hit 120mph-plus and take between 45 and 75 seconds to make the ascent.
Next week’s event will feature 200 cars including the Ferguson P99, once driven by Sir Stirling Moss in Formula 1 and also driven by Peter Westbury to the 1964 hillclimb title.
Mr Westbury, who lives in Tobago, is coming to England to drive it at Harewood. Geoff Hill, who first raced the course in his Austin Healey Sprite in 1964, will be driving a Renault Alpine GTA on the day.
He said: “I think while ever you feel you are competent enough to compete, it is still a real enjoyment and it is something you can’t do on roads in Great Britain.
“It is really a testament to the people who have continued to make it happen for all those years that it is still going strong today.”
Other highlights of the event, which will be attended by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Coun Ann Castle who had her first date with her husband there, include a historic class involving Formula 2 and Formula 3 cars.
There will also be production car trials, an autotest competition, displays of rare classic cars as well as activities for children and a flight simulator.
Tickets are £10, with under 14s getting in free. Visit www.harewoodhill.com for details.