Pacy: Ex-Queenstowner Eric Swinbourn competing last year in Lindsay O'Connell's Begg FM


Spectators are welcome today at one of Queenstown’s oldest but also most thrilling sporting events.

The Coronet Peak Hill Climb, started in 1972 by the Queenstown Car Club in its first year, will start running from 10am and continue till late afternoon, with all drivers getting three runs.

Club co-founder/former president Stuart Maclean says, probably due to Covid-19’s effects on the economy, entries are down this year — as of early this week, 35 mostly-local drivers had entered.

While there’s no outright favourite, he’s expecting competition to be hot.

Local drivers include Alan Garrick and his son Hamish, sharing a Toyota Levin, Adrian Jones, Todd Read, Simon Jones in a Mazda and Dr Tom Milliken in a Subaru Impreza, while former local Stephen Marks is coming down from Wellington.

Former MotorSport New Zealand head honcho Brian Budd is bringing a Mitsubishi Evo while Rory Callaway has a fast-looking Subaru WRX STi.

The faster cars are expected to hit 190kmh on some of the straight stretches of the skifield access road.

Maclean says the 2.7km uphill course on the upper half of the road — the same length as Invercargill’s Teretonga Park track — has remained unchanged.

‘‘It’s a hill that seems to suit, equally, race cars and rally cars.

‘‘I suspect that’s because there’s often a little bit of gravel about.

‘‘The other thing is the extra traction the 4WD cars get going uphill and around sharp bends is an advantage to them over the pure race cars.’’

Spectators can get good views of the action from about halfway up the course, he says.

The winner receives a Skyline-sponsored trophy while the Barry McMaster Memorial Trophy goes to the fastest Queenstown Car Club driver.