Racers gear up for 64th annual Knox Mountain Hill Climb

21 May 2023 | Canada | 24 |
Racers gear up for 64th annual Knox Mountain Hill Climb

The May long weekend is often said to be the unofficial start to summer, but in Kelowna it signals the start of an annual tradition.

The Knox Mountain Hill Climb, in its 64th year, challenges drivers from all across western Canada and the Pacific Northwest to race up Knox Mountain.

“We have everything from Tesla electric cars, through to vintage race cars, open wheel formula-style cars, to civics and sedans that are made for racing,” explains chief organizer, Bryan Fulton.

One at a time, a total of 49 competitors will take the climb. The current hill record is 1m:37.065, held by John Haftner of Vancouver.

“The idea is to see how fast you can go around the corners. There’s one long straight stretch, but most of it is corners,” said Fulton.

“If you think about a car going that distance in under two minutes, you get an idea of how fast they’re going.”

The track at Knox Mountain Park is 3.5 kilometres of paved road, with a climb of approximately 800 feet, making it the longest paved hill climb in North America.

“It’s scary, because it’s not a track,” said competitor Garrett Mealing.

“The pavement is old, its beat up and its dusty. You know you go to a track, and they feel like a track. There’s a lot of grip and here there’s not a lot of grip. It’s very deceiving how slippery it is out there.”

This is the seventh year that local driver Garrett Mealing has competed in this event. He says what drives him to return year after year is the chance to set records.

“I’m always chasing the records,” said Mealing. “The GTM class that I’m in now, I was chasing that record last year — I beat it, and this year I just hope to set it lower and see if I can get on the top three overall podium.”

While setting records is always the goal, Mealing adds this historic event is more than just earning hardware.

“I look forward to this weekend every year,” said Mealing. “It’s more like a camping trip with a little bit of racing interspersed. It’s about the best of both worlds.”

The action continues on Sunday from 9:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony at 6.

by Global News