Motor Sports Association

Hillclimb

 

Martin Groves

Lives: Bicester, Oxfordshire

DOB: 1965

Occupation: Runs family Haberdashery wholesale business

Currently competing in: Nicholson McLaren Aviation MSA British Hillclimb Championship

Career highlights: Reigning MSA British Hill Climb Champion, having won the title three times, in 2005, ’06 and ’07.

What got you interested in motor sport in the first place?

As a kid I saw the Formula 1 Grand Prix coverage on TV in the 1970s, and I watched hill climbing on family holidays in the Channel Islands, where the sport is very well supported.

Where/how did you get started?

First of all, I got into marshalling as it was a cheap way of being involved in the sport. After I’d worked out the ‘ins and outs’ of what happened at hill climbs, I went and bought my first car. It was a modified Ford Anglia, and I made my debut at Prescott in Gloucestershire in 1989. Some mates even came along to act as mechanics.

What car do you use now, and how much does a season cost you?

I’ve got a Gould GR55B single seater, fitted with a Nicholson McLaren 3.5 litre V8 engine. It gives about 650 horsepower, and will do 150 mph on the faster courses such as Gurston Down in Wiltshire. To run at the sport’s top level, and be in with a chance of winning, a season of 17 events all round the country costs me about £30,000. That may sound expensive, but that is for a state-of-the-art car.

What do you enjoy about your particular form of motorsport?

Hill climbing is an addictive challenge. I run a top-level car with the same performance as an early-‘90s F1 machine. The social side of the sport is very good as well. My whole family come along with me to the meetings, and all the hillclimb venues are very nice places to spend the weekend.

What tips would you pass onto someone who wants to start competing?

I’d definitely advocate marshalling as a good starting point. Go to some meetings and get a feel for what goes on. Also, join a car club GO FIND CLUBS. I’ve been a member of Midland AC, which runs hillclimbs at Shelsley Walsh in Worcestershire, since the 1990s. It’s the UK’s oldest motor club, having been formed in 1901.

Why would you recommend taking up motor sport?

It’s very good from the point of view of improving your business acumen; competing in hill climbs has given me the personal drive to also be very successful in business. It’s a well-organised sport, so it instils discipline in everyday life. At the same time, it definitely teaches you to develop a ‘can do’ attitude, whereby you will do everything in your power to overcome problems.