About the Yorkshire Centre
The BARC Yorkshire Centre runs Harewood Hillclimb which is the longest speed hillclimb course in mainland UK, hosting 12 events each year including 2 rounds of the prestigious MSA British Hillclimb Championship. The venue offers unrivalled views of high speed motorsport action set against a backdrop of the beautiful Wharfedale valley. Cars compete against the clock on the 1440 metre tarmac track, with the latest single seater racing cars reaching speeds of 130 mph.
The early years of the BARC Yorkshire Centre
In 1912 the British Automobile Racing Club was born as the Cyclecar Club.
1922 saw the formation of the Yorkshire Centre at a meeting in the Metropole Hotel , Leeds by which time the club had changed its name to the Junior Car Club.
The Yorkshire Centre was not the first to be formed as the South West Centre and the Manchester Centre [now the North West Centre] emerged a year earlier. The first speed hillclimb to be held by the Centre was in July 1922 on open public roads up Greenhow Hill at Pateley Bridge. Passengers were carried and the entry fee was £1. The weather was good and the JCC Gazette [now Startline] reported that the event was successful in every way. The only non-starter was Raymond Mays in a Bugatti.
This same year the Greenwood Cup was presented by Alfred Greenwood, a Leeds motor trader and the cup is still presented to this day. Membership in 1922 was some 65. Many other varied events followed including the first Scarborough Weekend, further hillclimbs, trials, and gymkhanas. The Centre in the pre-war years monopolised the “Inter-Centre Shield”, a competition between Centres held in the Midlands, as well as dominating the “War of the Roses”, a battle with the North West Centre. There was also an extensive social programme. The Centre ceased activities on the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
Although serving all over the world in the Armed Forces, members kept in touch with each other and in 1945 the Centre re-emerged to become the leading Yorkshire motor club lead by George Carlise and Cyril Wilson.
When two of the architects of the post war Centre, Mike Wilson, who masterminded Harewood Hillclimb, and Harry Mason, joined the club in 1947, such events as the Greenwood Cup, Scarborough Weekend, Sleuth’s Mug and the War of the Roses were already back on the calendar. It was in 1949 that the club became the British Automobile Racing Club. In 1950 the All Fools Rally was added to the calendar and became one of the North’s premier events. Centre members were prominent in the staffing of international race meetings organised by the BARC headquarters at Aintree, Goodwood and other circuits.
When Government made timed events on the road difficult the Centre turned its attention to off road speed events, dropping all timed events on the public highway. The Centre was already running Autocross events and these became extremely popular, and to promote this new idea of fast cars in farmers’ fields the Centre, together with the Yorkshire Sports Car Club and the East Yorkshire Car Club, ran events in all parts of East and West Yorkshire with great success.
In 1956 Arnold Burton and his brother Raymond, both enthusiastic Centre members, offered the use of the grounds of their tailoring empire at Hudson Road Mills close to the centre of Leeds. This created a fine and difficult tarmac sprint course which was used three times a year and attracted all manner of exotic motors.
1960 brought an opportunity use Oliver's Mount in Scarborough as a hillclimb, a venue which the Centre had tried to acquire in 1925 ! This event ran successfully for a number of years and proved a great social weekend. Another first for the Centre was to promote Drag Racing and when the Americans visited this country the Centre was charged with organising an event at Church Fenton, attended by 20,000 spectators.
In 1962 the Centre held some 30 events including a Drag Sprint, Burtons Sprints, The Scarborough Rally, All Fools Rally, autocross, Greenwood Cup, gymkhana, driving tests, Sleuths Mug, film shows, club nights, and the BARC Ball at the Queens Hotel with over 400 guests, and of course the first Harewood Hillclimb.
The late sixties saw the introduction of the Castrol BARC Hillclimb Championship, a class based national championship organised and promoted by Yorkshire Centre. Jeff Goodliff was the inaugural champion in 1968.
By the 1970’s the Centre had over 1000 members and a monthly Centre Circular of over 20 pages full of reports, gossip, news, correspondence and adverts galore.
The Yorkshire Centre now concentrates its efforts on making Harewood Hillclimb one of the finest hillclimb venues in the country, which does credit to the Centre and the BARC.