Rattlesnake Point Hill Climb

by Rupert Lloyd Thomas

© 2012-2013

First run by the British Empire Motor Club in 1950, the event was soon taken over by the newly-formed Sports Car Club (Toronto), founded 1950:
"The Sports Car Club's first competition chairman, Tom Pearce, an ex-test pilot and avid fan of anything connected with great automobiles, set himself the task of finding a suitable climbing hill for enthusiasts. Tom flew his Piper Cub over southern Ontario and charted every possibility on a map." [1]
The chosen venue was in the Halton Region of Southern Ontario, near Milton, in Nelson Township, on Appleby Line. The course was some 4/10 of a mile in length on a dirt road, climbing the Niagara escarpment. See: N 43 28' 17", W 79 54' 35"
Tom Pearce was a founder member of the Canadian Automobile Sport Committee in 1951 (from 1958, Clubs, CASC). [2] Pearce was a printer by trade, operating Northern Miner Press Limited from an address at 122 Richmond Street West, Toronto. This company, which served the mining and financial communities, also printed race programmes.

1950: The first event had 24 entries:
"Over 1000 people lined the roadway and hair-pin turns at Rattlesnake Point roadway last Sunday to watch an exciting hill climbing contest sponsored by the British Empire Motor Club. The huge audience didn't seem to mind the clouds of dust churned up by the midget cars as they rounded curves at break-neck speed. Caught by the Free Press cameraman is one of the small M.G. roadsters as it skids around the most dangerous curve on the course. Below is shown Bob Todd, of Aldershot, with his sleek roadster, who made the 300ft climb in less than a minute, precisely .9742 seconds (sic). Officials of the event said the course was one of the best and most hazardous in this part of the province. -Photos by Ross Pearen." [3]
The event was won by George Barrett, from Galt, Ontario, in a supercharged MGTD, #13, in a time of 0.961 min; in second place was R. Todd, MGTC, #8, 0.9742 min; third was Jim Fergusson in an MGTC, #11, 0.9757 min. [4] They used this curious method of timing in the fifties i.e. thousandths of a minute.

1952: "Saturday, June 7th-B.E.M.C. Car Hill Climb, located at Rattlesnake Point, about 5 miles North-West of Milton, Ontario. Start at 1.00 P.M. Open to B.E.M.C. members and invited clubs."

1953: 40 entries. Results, Class G: (750 c.c. to 1,100 c.c. unsupercharged - blown cars were moved up one class) Don Brailey, modified Morris Minor, 65.0 sec; J.B. Harris, Morris Minor, 74.8 sec; Peter Dillnutt, Austin A30, 76.75 sec. Class F: Tommy Hoan, M.G. TC, 52.71 sec, L. France, Porsche, 55.05 sec.
"A varied selection of machinery contested the 2-3-litre class. Ian Sword in the ex-Wheaton DB2 Aston Martin going up sleek and fast to win in 55.41 secs. A TC with V8 60 engine, handled by Neil Bryson, did 58.79 then 57.51, to become runner-up, and a Sunbeam Talbot was third."
Over 3-litre: Vern Jeffries, Jaguar XK120 coupe, 51.89 sec; G. Farrow, Jaguar; Peter Hayes, Jaguar. [5]

1954: Peter Dillnutt driving a Singer Roadster, registered 3D 596, won the Class 1 Production Car Category in 62.34 seconds. An advertisement in The Toronto Star trumpeted his success: "In a hill course rising 400 feet in 900 yards ..against all high-powered British, European and North American cars under 1500 CC, the new Singer Roadster surged to first place in Rattlesnake Point Climb." [6] "No account of the Hill would be complete without recalling the late Peter Dillnutt, a former treasurer of the S.C.C., who made his most exciting runs in the first Formula III Cooper to enter this country. After Peter's tragic demise, in a manner completely unrelated to fast motoring, some of his ashes were spread on the hill that had given him so much enjoyment." [7]

1956: "Forty-nine entrants took part in the hill climb on June 2nd, among them many of our perennial keen types driving all types of cars from a stock Morris Minor to an AC Ace with Bristol engine. Don Clarke's Cooper 500 was in good shape and made very good time once the engine was started. That compression! Incidentally, it is the first time we have actually seen this car in competition, and the aroma of Castrol R brings back memories."[8]

1960: "With the record-holding Jordan Special hors de combat when driver Dan Shaw broke the left rear wheel in purposely using the banking on the last corner to retain the car on its way to what would likely have been a new record, the path was cleared for Klaus Bartels in his Carrera. In setting a time of 46.20 sec, Bartels came within .09 sec of equalling the record, set last year by Don Haddow in the 998 cc Vincent motorcycle-engined Jordan Special.
In a gravel-spattering effort, Ernest Graf pushed his VW-Porsche to a time of 47.35, good enough for 2nd overall, followed by Ed Bradley at 48.00 sec in the 3rd rear-engined car, an 896 cc DKW Canada Class machine." [9]

1962: The May programme cautions: "A comparison of winning times over the years is meaningless as starting points have varied and weather and road conditions are never similar."

The events staged by the Burlington Autosport Club were called the Burlington Hill Climb.

Table of winners

George Barrett
MGTD 1,250 c.c. s/c #13
0.961 min
Sunday May 7.
Dean Gooderham
0.943 min
[10] June.
Tom Hoan
MGTC 1,250 c.c.
0.946 min
August 18.
Peter Hayes
MGTC 1,250 c.c.
53.3 sec
[11] May 17.
Neil Bryson
MGTC V8-60
0.869 min R
[12] June 7.
Dave Bryson
MGTC V8-60
0.917 min
[13] August 9.

August 30.
Vern Jeffries
Jaguar XK120M coupe
51.89 sec
[14] June 6.
Jim Fergusson
52.77 sec
[15] Saturday May 1.
Fred Hayes
Allard J2X-Cadillac
50.12 sec
[16] June 4.
Peter Hayes
A.C. Ace-Bristol #25
48.27 sec R
[17] Saturday June 2.
Fred Hayes
Allard J2X-Cadillac
50.89 sec
[18] Wet.
Don Stewart
Jaguar XKSS
46.74 sec R
[19] June 7.
Don Haddow
Jordan Special-Vincent 1,000 c.c. #30
46.11 Sec R
[20] May 30.
Klaus Bartels
Porsche Carrera
46.20 sec
[21] Saturday June 4.
Klaus Bartels
Porsche Carrera
45.84 sec R
[22] Saturday June 3.
Don Haddow
Jordan Special-Vincent 1,000 c.c. #15
42.53 sec R
[23] Saturday May 26.
Horst Kroll
Porsche #17
45.659 sec
[24] August 11.

[25] May 26.
Horst Kroll
47.29 sec
[26] July 20-21.
Klaus Bartels
44.72 sec
[27] May 23.
Horst Kroll
Single-seater Formula Libre
47.847 sec
[28] Saturday July 4. Wet.

[29] May 9.
Ivan Hayhurst
Ford Falcon
48.289 sec
[30] June 25.

[31] October 2.

[32] August 27.
R = Record
BEMC = British Empire Motor Club; SCC = Sports Car Club-Toronto; BAC = Burlington Autosport Club.
  1. ^ Programme: May 26, 1962.
  2. ^ David A. Charters, The Chequered Past, Sports Car Racing & Rallying in Canada, 1951-1991, University of Toronto Press, 2007, Page 16. CASC was founded on June 17, 1951.
  3. ^ The Canadian Champion, (Milton, ON), 11 May 1950, Page 1; Acton Free Press, (Acton, ON), 11 May 1950, Page 1.
  4. ^ B.E.M.C. Bulletin, via Roy McLaughlin, B.E.M.C. archive, 2012.
  5. ^ Roderick J. Thurgood, Autosport, July 3, 1953, Page 14.
  6. ^ The Toronto Star, Friday June 18, 1954, Page 12; see also The Toronto Star, Wednesday September 8, 1954, Page 7.
  7. ^ Robert C. Evis, 1962 Programme, Page 5.
  8. ^ R.P.M., Journal of The Sports Car Club, June 1956, Vol.IV, No.3.
  9. ^ Roger Proulx, Competition Press, Vol.IV-No.12, June 25, 1960, Page 6.
  10. ^ B.E.M.C. Bulletin, Aug/Sept 1951: "Congratulations are in order to Dean Gooderham and F. Hayes for fast hill climb made in June on Rattlesnake Hill. Record for Hill F. Hayes in Gooderham MGTC Time 0.919. Fastest time of the day D. Gooderham MGTC 0.943."
  11. ^ B.E.M.C. Bulletin, March 1952, Vol 5, Issue 3, has 1952 season calendar showing four Hill Climb dates.
  12. ^ B.E.M.C. Bulletin, July 1952, Vol 5, Issue 7, Page 8.
  13. ^ B.E.M.C. Bulletin, September 1952, Vol 5, Issue 9, Page 4.
  14. ^ Alice Fergusson, Canadian Speed Special, Friday June 19, 1953, Page 6; Small Torque, B.E.M.C., Vol 6, Issue 7, July, 1953, Pages 7, 11. For a photograph of Vern Jeffries see Globe and Mail, Monday, July 6, 1953, Page 22.
  15. ^ Document: Annual Hill Climb, Rattlesnake Point, May 1, 1954, Results. The winning car was the "Mother Goose" MG with a GMC truck engine.
  16. ^ Document: Annual Hill Climb, Rattlesnake Point, Saturday, June 4, 1955; see also Small Torque, September 1955, Vol 8, Issue 9, centre pages, for photograph of Fred Hayes, Cad-Allard.
  17. ^ Document: Results of the Sports Car Club Annual Hillclimb on 2nd June 1956.
  18. ^ Jack O'Donoghue, Autosport, June 14, 1957, Page 756; Jack O'Donoghue, Rattlesnake in the Rain, Autosport, June 21, 1957, Page 789; Cover photograph, Canada Track & Traffic, October, 1959, Caption: "Digging into his files, photographer Roger A. Proulx came across this photograph of a rare beast -- the Cad-Allard seen here putting up the fastest time of the day with Fred Hayes at the wheel during the Rattlesnake Hillclimb in 1956." Photograph actually dates from 1957.
  19. ^ Richard Clee, The Toronto Star, Wednesday, May 14, 1958 , Page 27.
  20. ^ Roger Proulx, Slithering up Rattlesnake, Canada Track & Traffic, Vol 1, No.1, September 1959, Pages 41-42; see also Acton Free Press, (Acton, ON), 14 May 1959, Page 8: "Burlington Council Monday night refused permission for sponsoring Burlington Sports Car Club to hold the race on the weekend of May 30. Residents complained of the condition of the road following last year's races, and the fact the area would have to be closed off to weekend sightseers were cited as reasons for the refusal." Later revoked - see The Canadian Champion, (Milton, ON), 28 May 1959, Page 5.
  21. ^ Globe and Mail, Saturday, June 4, 1960, Page 30; Globe and Mail, June 6, 1960, Page 33; Toronto Star, Monday, June 6, 1960 , Page 23; Road & Track, October 1960, Vol 12, No 2, Page 84.
  22. ^ Globe and Mail, June 2, 1961, Page 19; Globe and Mail, Monday, June 5, 1961, Page 19; Toronto Star, Monday, June 5, 1961, Page 16.
  23. ^ Globe and Mail, May 28, 1962, Page 23; see also The Toronto Star, Friday, May 25, 1962, Page 15; described as the 13th Annual Rattlesnake Hill Climb in the Programme.
  24. ^ Document: BURLINGTON AUTOSPORT INC., 1962 HILL CLIMB - August 11th 1962, OFFICIAL RESULTS; The Canadian Champion, (Milton, ON), August 16, 1962, Page 3; see also Globe and Mail, Monday, August 6, 1962, Page 22.
  25. ^ Coming Events, Canada Track & Traffic, Vol 4, No 8, April 1963, Page 63.
  26. ^ Coming Events, Canada Track & Traffic, Vol 4, No 11, July 1963, Page 55; Gordon Salisbury, B.A.R.C. Magazine, B.A.R.C. Ontario Centre, July/August, 1963.
  28. ^ Globe and Mail, Monday, July 6, 1964, Page 24. See also Globe and Mail, Monday, June 22, 1964, Page 28.
  29. ^ Coming Events, Canada Track & Traffic, Vol 6, No 8, May 1965, Page 59; Burlington Gazette, May 13, 1965, Page 12: "The Sports Car Club of Toronto's hillclimb scheduled for Rattlesnake hill last Sunday was cancelled at the last minute, probably due to the conflicting Harewood week-end and a lack of entries."
  30. ^ Coming Events, Canada Track & Traffic, Vol 6, No 9, June 1965, Page 57; John Ross, Burlington Gazette, June 30, 1965, Page 9.
  31. ^ Globe and Mail, Friday, September 24, 1965, Page 46: "Oct 2 - S.C.C. Rattlesnake Hill Climb. This event has been cancelled." See also Globe and Mail, Wednesday, September 29, 1965, Page 39; Globe and Mail, Saturday, October 2, 1965, Page 50.
  32. ^ Coming Events, Canada Track & Traffic, Vol 7, No 10, July 1966, Page 53.