Chasing the Dragon: Interest grows for Hillclimbs

By J.A. Ackley
Aug 5, 2022 | SCCA, Appalachian HillClimb Series, Flag Rock HillClimb, Chasing the Dragon

Photography Credit: Alec White/SCCA Appalachian HillClimb Series

Interest continues to grow for hillclimbs in Appalachia, as witnessed by last weekend’s Chasing the Dragon Hillclimb in Robbinsville, North Carolina. While two new events have sparked up recently in the region, the Dragon for many years was the only hillclimb in the area. The 15th annual event was a sellout.

[Using motorsport tourism to boost an economy]

It had a few years of really low attendance, but it’s coming back,” said Brad Gates, of the SCCA Appalachian HillClimb Series Presented by Summit Racing. “We had so many new cars show up–it was incredible.”

Photography Credit: Alec White/SCCA Appalachian HillClimb Series

The drivers behind these new cars excited Gates as well.

We had a bunch of young guys with cars they built themselves,” Gates said. “It reminded me of when I was a kid, when Can-Am was around. They had all these young drivers and awesome cars.”

The new blood in the hillclimbs brought not only cars that were cool, but also fast.

There was a guy with a DF Kit Car Goblin making over 500 horsepower,” said Gates. “K-swapped Miatas, a GT-R-powered 240Z, and all sorts of things. We had nine cars go faster than any other car did three years ago.”

Photography Credit: Alec White/SCCA Appalachian HillClimb Series

The SCCA Appalachian HillClimb Series continues on August 27-28 with the first annual Flag Rock HillClimb in Norton, Virginia. Although they’ve reached capacity on entries, Gates encouraged those interested to enter and be placed on the waiting list. You can register for that event here.


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View comments on the GRM forums
BA5 GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/4/22 11:15 a.m.

I ran in XII, broke my car, and got the t-shirt.  

Decided to rebuild my car as a hill climb special, but it's taken me longer to finish than I expected.  Hope to get back out there soon, but I'm glad that Hill Climbs have really taken off in the intervening years so I'll have more choices when it's finally done!

rustomatic Reader
8/4/22 12:01 p.m.

Wow, I didn't even know they did that so close to where I live now.  I will definitely plan to attend one of these in near future (when car is functional again), so long as they are not priced like the Virginia City hillclimb that was put on by a Ferarri club . . .

8/4/22 12:25 p.m.

This hill is a challenge, but also fun & rewarding. Great to see so many faces this year and some killer times! It's awesome to see hillclimb gaining traction in the area once again! See y'all in Norton! 

Also, thank you for sharing my video!

JahjahSQC None
8/4/22 12:28 p.m.

In reply to rustomatic :

I'm an SCCA member & paid $300. Very affordable in my opinion for a 2 day event.

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
8/4/22 1:08 p.m.

Theres 3(?) Now in the nc/tn/va/ky corner of the world. I think ccr scca is the host club for pine mt and chasing the dragon. 

I really hop i can volunteer next time. Get a feel for the hill before trying to run it.

jmabarone Reader
8/4/22 1:22 p.m.

Anyone been to Pilot Mountain State Park in NC?  The driveway into the park would be a fantastic hillclimb but it would shut down the park.

GreenWithNB GRM+ Memberand None
8/4/22 2:13 p.m.

I've chased this dragon for a couple years (3 events) and I don't care if I ever catch it. The hill is great but the people make it what it is. If you're interested in hillclimb I urge you to try it. Make personal goals and chase them. I've never seen anyone leave the event mad. My Miata is proof, you don't have to be fast to have fun!!!! See everyone in Norton (Flag Rock) 

8/5/22 3:14 a.m.

Was a lot of fun and a beautiful location! The Appalachian HillClimb Series is growing and is a good opportunity for East Coast racers to get a taste of this kind of event.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
8/5/22 6:32 a.m.

This is one of the reasons I got the new Subaru. I can put tarmac tires and wheels on it and viola, more ways to have fun!

jb229 New Reader
8/7/22 10:14 a.m.

Absolutely beautiful drive, all that rain means it's just a tunnel through the trees.  Great run in that last video.

The PA Hillclimb Association puts on a few events a year a little further north in the WV/MD/PA area.

Black_ops_miata New Reader
8/7/22 10:21 a.m.

Excellent event!  They get better every time!  I normally drive, but I worked the event this year, which was almost as great!  So excited for Appalachian Hillclimb Series to be growing hillclimb in the area immediately south of PHA's legendary hills!  I didn't see it in the article, but a huge congratulations to Cody Puckett, who lowered Mark Aubele's already incredible hill record!  Philip Glass-Hess finishing 3rd overall in a Miata he DROVE to the event! What a f***ing legend!  It truly amazes me that this group can go to a stretch of road, and put together a full competition event, complete with water barriers, timing system, dozens of workers, EMS, fire, wreckers, communication, parties and festivals, tech, awards, and a giant blow up dragon hanging over it all!  Great! Amazing! Epic!  

Oh, and search all the videos, and check out the Appalachian Hillclimb Series and the various event groups on Facebook!  And check out Backroads of Appalachia, the non-profit that's been helping bring motorsports to the region! 

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