Carbon Empire Revealed

The peace and tranquility of the Staffordshire countryside was shattered yesterday morning by the scream of a racing motorcycle engine as yet another brand new model of hillclimb car was released into the wild.

Clive Austin Empire Wraith

Clive Austin prepares for a run in the new carbon Empire at Curborough.


Over the past seven months we have brought regular updates on the progress of the build of the latest car from the Somerset workshop of prolific car builder Bill Chaplin at Empire Racing Cars.

Since 1999 Bill has manufactured honeycombe, spaceframe and carbon fibre chassis for seven different hillclimb classes, all of which have been very successful indeed. But now he has done it again, with his most high-tech chassis to date.

The latest Empire is the result of a collaboration between Bill, Torro Rosso designer David Spires and Sauber F1 aerodynamicist and 2005 BHC runner-up Willem Toet.

This car has been created in an attempt to bring F1 style aerodynamics and technology to the smaller capacity racing car classes of British Hillclimbing. Never before has such a high-level of sophistication been seen in an 1100cc Racing Car, certainly on the hills and probably anywhere in World Motorsport.

Empire Wraith

Empire Wraith complete with engine cover


Chassis number 1 has been completed to a very tight deadline, and will be run by the new driver-share partnership of former OMS driver Clive Austin and hard-charging Jedi pilot Chris Aspinall.

Running initially with a mildly-tuned Suzuki GSXR1000 whilst the chassis and electronics are developed, in its current spec the car weighs in at 271kg and has a healthy 180bhp from the Gixer lump.

Empire Wraith

Very clever aero at the rear of the car


Currently the aero package is in a very early phase with just wings and an engine cover, but that will change over the coming months as the ‘Toet Effect’ is fully explored. Sidepods, floor and lots of flicks and scoops are planned for the future.

The car ran at Curborough on Wednesday with no bodywork on it and with very elderly rubber, but it was still quick enough to put a smile on the faces of those pedaling it. Clive did the initial shake-down laps, before handing over to Chris for a more serious blast. Chris then had to return to work so he left Clive to it, although Bill did have a little run in his own creation later on.

Empire Wraith

Very tidy engine installation as you would expect from Empire Racing Cars


After his first proper run Clive was visibly chuffed to bits and said “there is a small amount of understeer at the hairpin, but bloody hell is it fast! It’s marvellous, big smiles all round!”.

We have seen the car in the flesh, and the finish and build quality is seriously impressive, it looks just like a mini Formula 1 car. In fact, due to its diminutive size and black finish, from a distance the car looks like an F1 wind-tunnel model!

Bill, David, Willem and Ronnie have all done a fantastic job in the getting the car out so quickly and if it’s performance at Curborough is anything to go on, then it will be bang on the pace very quickly. Very well done guys, you’ve got a cracker there!

Empire Racing Cars

Team Photo (L-R Chris, Ronnie, Bill & Clive)




  1. Andy kittle says:

    Looks mighty best of luck with this beast can you imagine a full blown 1600 in that mind blowing

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