Mattara Hillclimb will be held at Ringwood Park Motorsport Complex over October long weekend

Rick Vincent with his Lotus 111R at the Ringwood Park Mortorsport Complex. Mr Vincent is a member of the MG Car Club Newcastle board and coordinates its speed events. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Rick Vincent with his Lotus 111R at the Ringwood Park Mortorsport Complex. Mr Vincent is a member of the MG Car Club Newcastle board and coordinates its speed events. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

THE October long weekend will signal new beginnings for a legendary event: the Mattara Hillclimb.

Hillclimbers did a final lap of the iconic King Edward Park track in 2015, but that did not spell the end of the event which has been running in Newcastle for the past 50 years.

Instead, the Mattara Hillclimb will move to a new location – Ringwood Park Motorsport Complex, just outside Raymond Terrace.

Peter Robinson from MG Car Club Newcastle, the organisers of the annual hillclimb, said it was no longer possible to run the event at King Edward Park but they wanted to keep the tradition alive.

“In conjunction with the Mattara Festival organisers, the MG Car Club Newcastle has decided to continue this iconic event and tradition, born in 1951, to its new home at Ringwood Park Motorsport Complex,” Mr Robinson said.

“The club has worked hard to prepare for this event.

“Our new hot mix track was laid in 2014 and constant upgrading [has been done] to provide grassy viewing areas and give superb views of the whole track.”

Mr Robinson said this year’s hillclimb is still being promoted as a family day out which will include displays, food and soft drinks.

Spectators are welcome to continue their tradition of taking blankets and chairs to sit on in the spectator areas overlooking the race track, just like they did at King Edward Park.

The first hillclimb was held in the park in 1951 but was forced into a six-year hiatus in 1957 when a government crackdown on motor sport undid it. 

It was reborn in 1963 and was held in the park every October long weekend up until 2015.

Changes to the roads and pathways in the park made them no longer suitable for the hillclimb, and forced the car club to move it to its home base at Ringwood Park.

Rick Vincent, a member of the MG Car Club Newcastle board, said Ringwood Park still offered hillclimbers a competitive circuit.

The course the club is running for this event is 1.2 kilometres in length, rising 30 metres from the start and diving down through many corners to the finish line.

Mr Vincent said the change of venue had made a difference on driver numbers this year, which he said was “disappointing”.

“We have a different circuit layout this year which is just as challenging but I think some drivers are just thinking ‘but it’s not King Edward Park’,” he said.

In past years the hillclimb has attracted 120 drivers. This year, the club is aiming to attract 80.

A number of core clubs have said they will attend the hillclimb, including Kempsey and Tamworth.

The Mattara Hillclimb is the final event in a tri-club competition between Kempsey, Tamworth and Newcastle.

For all other participants, it is a competitive day out on the track.

A practice day will be held on Friday, September 30 and the main event across two days, October 1 and 2.

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