“King of the Hill” at Chimney Rock
On April 29, 1956, the first Chimney Rock Hill Climb took place. Hill climbing is an uphill motorsport in which drivers compete against the clock.
Organized by the Morse family, then owners of the Chimney Rock Park, and the Sports Car Club of America, the hill climb ran in the spring and sometimes the fall of each year. While the length of the course changed over the years from the 2.7 miles during the early years to 1.8 miles during the latter years, the goal of the race always was to be crowned “King of the Hill.”
The narrow winding access road to the top rose from 1,100 to 2,200 feet above sea level in less than three miles and often sent drivers over the edge. In later years the race to the top took less than two minutes, and of the course of run, no one was ever seriously hurt. The 13 hairpin turns were always lined with spectators and the event attracted repeat drivers and enthusiastic crowds.
Unfortunately, the park, usually a tranquil place where people could view wildlife and serene beauty, became anything but that on race weekends, filling with raucous crowds and loud, fast cars.
Safety and liability issues finally ended the race in 1995.
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