The Hagley and District Light Car Club organised its first sprint in the grounds of the hotel on 29 September 1957. Welcoming all the leading hill climb competitors of the day, the Chateau was hailed by Autocar magazine as “easily the most picturesque of this country’s sprint and hill climb venues,” and the original speed events epitomised the golden era of motorsport. The sprints ran until 1967 before abruptly coming to a halt, and soon became forgotten by the Midlands motorsport community.
Guy Loveridge is the chairman of the Guild of Motoring Writers and specialises in writing about sports racing cars and grand prix cars from the 1950s and 1960s. When approached by the organisers to write a book about the Chateau’s largely undocumented motorsport history, he couldn’t wait to sink his teeth into the challenge.
“The book took me about 18 months in total to write, with contributors from Australia and the US amongst others,” said Guy. “Competitors here seem to have spread themselves out all over the world, so I seem to have gotten stories from all four corners of the planet!”
Speed Trial offers a comprehensive history of the original events, and includes photographs from Hugh Miller, as well as stories from former competitors such as Mark Virr, Dick James, David Good and record-holder Tony Griffiths.
Not content to merely write about the speed trials, Guy took part in the inaugural Hill Climb with his Morgan Plus 4 to truly discover what it was like to compete at the Chateau.
“The atmosphere at the event was absolutely fantastic, and it was a privilege to climb into my own 1950s Morgan and race against the clock at the Hill Climb, along with selling the book in the Regent Exhibition,” he concluded.
Speed Trial is priced at £35 and hardback copies, complete with a DVD featuring over 30 minutes of footage from the original Chateau Impney speed trials, can be purchased from Chateau Impney reception.